BAGUIO CITY (June 21) — Marketing and finance officials of a cement company barely satisfied issues raised surrounding its products as they hurdled questions from Cordillera builders, contractors, engineers and media in a forum on blended cement Thursday here.
Holcim, Philippines’ Senior Vice-president for Sales and Marketing Francis Felizardo presented manufacturing procedures for Portland, Pozzolan and the innovations his company made to get the “good qualities” of both cement products blended into one product he described a superior, blended cement product.
“Portland cement dries faster while pozzoland strengthens concrete through time and even makes it stronger,” Felizardo said clarifying the former is not better than the latter since both have qualities needed for a structure that is intended to last.
Insinuating that the new product, blended cement is better than both Portland and pozzoland, Holcim now produces only less than 10% of its total cement production. The company developed the product and has been marketing it for the last six years. It claims to have marketed around 106 million bags of blended cement last year, 23 million bags of which were exported to foreign markets. One bag weighs 40 kilograms.
Some engineers, most of them organized under the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers, who were in the forum raised concerns that blended cement has been replacing Portland and pozzoland in the market leaving a little room for consumers to exercise their freedom of choice. Engr. Vera Go, a lady contractor stood in behalf of cement consumers and raised issues of non-availability of other cement products in small 40-kilogram bags.
Holcim’s Chief Finance Officer Eduardo Sahagun admitted the company does not maintain its 40-k bags in the market but said consumers may avail of the product in bulk at the plant site in Bacnotan, La Union. This raised more issues among the contractors and builders in the forum.
Sahagun did not mention the name of Northern Cement, its competitor as he dared the consumers to avail of other cement brands in the market. Northern Cement is the only other company supplying the north Luzon market with Portland and pozzoland.
Felizardo explained their Portland stock used to harden in warehouses since the introduction of the blended cement that the company had to withdraw it from the market and decided at decreasing its production. He also cited additional costs in bring the product to the warehouse, which is P5 per bag. “Pag tumigas lang, pati iyong produkto nawala,” (If it hardens, even the product is lost), he said. He added after three months in the warehouse, cement starts to harden.
The blue book of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has prescribed blended cement but with a notation “provided it passes trial mix”. DPWH usually prescribes “PLD” (engineering short cut for Portland) because it has been tested and builders know how to handle it.
Other issues raised are the pricing, the test results and many other technical features of the three cement products. Holcim claims to be a global company. It absorbed Bacnotan-based Union Cement in the recent past. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS