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Pison Family: The salty and sweet side of Ilonggo entrepreneurship

Submitted by on September 23, 2011 – 9:13 pm12 Comments

Pison Monument Iloilo City

Salt and Sugar – the gold that catapulted the Pison clan to their heritage and unquestionable contribution to Iloilo’s society and agricultural industry. Today, though the family does not much export this “gold”, they invested heavily in bringing Iloilo City to modernity and to the future – they are now focused on real estate.

Pison House at Molo

One of the Pison Ancestral Houses at Molo

In the late 19th Century, Donato M. Pison, the family’s forerunner, invested in muscovado and salt production, both of which are main exports of Iloilo at that time. He did not only took the opportunity of the booming sugar industry, he also innovated and succeeded in other aspects of agriculture production – rice farming and salt-making. Mr. Pison cultivated hectares of rice field, acquired its neighboring fishponds, and innovated salt-production which was traded in the Visayas and to Mindanao. He was a successful entrepreneur, answered the needs of his time and provided livelihood to his people, whose descendants still work for the family today.

Perspective of KAPIDECO Real Estate

Perspective of KAPIDECO Real Estate

Pison Rotunda Perspective KAPIDECO

Today, the Pison family, inspired by their heritage took the helm and focused on the goal of bringing Iloilo to the 21st Century in realizing its great potential. They set up real estate businesses – the KAPIDECO, Riverside Boardwalk Properties, Inc. and S.T. Pison Enterprises, Inc.


One of its prime projects today is their partnership with Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) in developing a 2.8 hectare lot situated near Small Ville at Mandurriao District into an I.T. Park. Another important project is the development of KAPIDECO estate along San Rafael-Tabucan Road into a commercial, residential, recreational and educational district complete with amenities which will allow people to enjoy residence, workplace, and entertainment. These properties were the former salt beds and rice fields in the 19th century.

Donato M. Pison Rotunda

Pison Rotunda Iloilo

To commemorate their family’s legacy, the Pison clan commissioned the construction of the Donato Pison Monument at the Pison Rotunda. The monument is actually a muscovado chimney, built by Mr. Pison himself, placed on a square cement pedestal adorned with sculptural renditions of the four industries Mr. Pison engaged to.

On each side of the pedestal tells a different story. The north side, facing SM City, depicts fishpond farming; the south side facing Small Ville shows sugar cane farming; the east illustrates sugar cane farming while at its opposite side shows salt-making. Mr. Edward Defensor, a renowned Ilonggo artists and a close friend of the Pisons, headed the construction of the monument. It was inaugurated on May 01, 2010 – the annual homecoming (celebration of Labor Day) and reunion of the Pison clan. This is one of the few art monuments in the city which includes the Arroyo fountain at the Provincial Capitol.

Pison Monument Relief
Sugar Cane Farming Relief

A marker was placed on the east side of the monument to offer a brief description of Mr. Donato M. Pison’s contribution to Ilonggo agriculture. Below is the inscription written on the marker:

On this site, now stands the chimney that is reminiscent of the “muscovado” factory that


built in Brgy. San Rafael, Mandurriao, Iloilo City. In the 1980s, he was one of the Ilonggos who engaged on sugar production when the Province of Iloilo was a major producer of muscovado or brown sugar. He also cultivated a ten-hectare rice field and in time acquired the  neighboring fishponds.

Years later, taking advantage of the strong northeastern wind ideal for the formation of salt crystals, he ventured into salt-making. To produce salt known as “white gold”, he manufactured bricks for salt beds using clay from his rice field. The bricks were baked in a kiln he himself made. He also built a Chinese-inspired wooden contraption with multiple paddles that moved salt water up from the river and fishponds to the evaporator ponds and into the salt beds. This expertise was imitated by other salt-producing areas in the Visayas and as far as Mindoro. Salt trading was done in the Visayas and Minadanao region.

In embarking on a diversified land use with an exceptional enterprising spirit and fortitude, he made a major contribution to Iloilo’s thriving agricultural industry. He achieved this with the support of his wife, Paciencia Tijam Pison, from Albay, Bicol and in partnership with their loyal farm workers whose descendants still work with the family up to this time.

In 1981, Donato M. Pison Sr., was honored posthomously as one of the few “Ten Outstanding Iloilo Pioneers” by Iloilo CREBA, ISOA, and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Iloilo for his invaluable innovations in salt industry. Inspired by their heritage, the heirs became entrepreneurs themselves. In a bold move to develop the city’s real estate business they put up KAPIDECO (Kaunturan Pison Development Corporation), Riverside Boardwalk Properties, Inc. and S.T. Pison Entreprises, Inc.

For all these, Donato M. Pison Sr., was a simple man. Yet he lived his dreams and passion and a great vision –  a vision which is now shared by the third generation, ever conscious of each small step made towards reshaping modern Iloilo. Where the salt business was once is now a symbol of a rapid development and Iloilo’s great potential. This chimney started it all. Where you stand now, more than a hundred years later, is a legacy that the Pison clan offers to the people of Iloilo.

May 01, 2010

Mr. Pison’s success can be replicated at this time; his characteristics – hardworking, innovative, and ambitious are features other Ilonggo entrepreneurs have. I believe Mr. Pison’s legacy should be an inspiring example to all young Ilonggo entrepreneurs who aspire, not only for success, but also for Iloilo’s development.

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