By ANGELO G. GARCIA
Lounging by the pool reading a book while a cold margarita sits on a table next to the comfortable woven lounge chair is a dream come true on a weekend afternoon. The little kids are happily playing at the water playground while the teenagers sweat it out on the basketball court. Some adults enjoy hot cups of Americano and admiring the lush mountains in the distance while a group of friends exchange stories and laughter over a table filled with non-diet food.
Weekends are supposed to be like this. Not running around the mall and spending too much money for another shirt, a pair of pants, a large cup of sugary milk tea, and a basket of greasy burger with a side of fries.
It’s important for people living in the city to get out once in a while. Living inside a crowded metropolis can be stressful. And sometimes having a regular place to go to even just for a whole day is enough to clear one’s body and mind.
This is what members-only clubs offer to their shareholders—a safe space that is less crowded, family-friendly amenities, and surrounded by nature. As snobbish as it seems, exclusive clubs have their benefits.
Filipinos are realizing this fact that is why more real estate developers are opening new exclusive leisure estates especially in provinces near Metro Manila.
Adding to that list is Alviera, a joint development project between Ayala Land, Inc. and Leonio Land. Launched in 2014, it sits on a 1,800- hectare land in Porac, Pampanga.
It’s a master planned estate that has industrial parks, several residential developments, commercial districts, a country club, and more.
At the center of the estate is Alviera Country Club, an exclusive facility for members.
“This is envisioned to be the economic and lifestyle hub in Central Luzon. We feel that we are strategically located because this is a thriving region now. A lot of the investments of the government are coming in this area,” explains Alviera project development manager Melanie Eugenio.
BETWEEN A RIVER AND A MOUNTAIN
The country club sits on a 5.6- hectare area within the estate. It is nestled between a river to the east and a mountain range to the west.
“Alviera is one of the few estates that we have that’s accessible by land, by sea, and by air. So by land via the NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) and SCTEX (Subic-Clark-TarlacExpressway) network, by air via the Clark International Airport, and by sea via Subic Freeport,” Melanie says.
For the developers, Pampanga was an obvious choice since Central Luzon has seen unprecedented infrastructure and economic growth in recent years. For instance, just a few kilometers away from Porac is Capas in Tarlac, where the New Clark City is located. The city will play host to the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in November.
“In terms of market, we are the third largest region in terms of GDP, average family income, and income from remittances. So we know coming here, there’s really spending power in the market. And also in terms of labor pool, we have the second largest population of higher education graduates. In fact, a lot of our staff in the estate are locals. A good 80 percent are coming from Pampanga and Bataan areas,” she shares.
To become a member, interested individuals can buy an individual share of P630,000 and a corporate share of P1 million. So far, the club already has 500 members and the target number of members is 1,200.
OASIS IN PORAC
The club was designed by Leandro V. Locsin Partners and the concept was to create an “oasis in the beautiful, rugged landscape of Porac.”
The property’s main structures feature leaf-shaped roofs inspired by nature. The color palate uses sophisticated earth tone colors. With nature in mind, the designers incorporated greenery in the whole development such as cat tail grass in the courtyard gardens and trees that would eventually grow to provide shade from the notorious Pampanga heat.
The country club has a sophisticated resort look, achieved in the overall design and furniture. The furniture pieces are mostly locally made. There are pieces by Kenneth Cobonpue and Vito Selma, but most of the pieces are by South Sea Veneer.
This is envisioned to be the economic and lifestyle hub in Central Luzon. We feel that we are strategically located because this is a thriving region now. A lot of the investments of the government are coming in this area.
The club has a main clubhouse, banquet halls, network of pools, a splash water park, and several sports courts. There are also several recreational facilities like a cinema, game room, spa, gym with dance studio, kids room, KTV rooms, and more.
The club also highlights what Pampanga is known for: food. As a food capital, Pampanga is a foodie’s dream destination and Alviera has its own restaurants that serve Kapampangan, Filipino, and international cuisines. The food and beverage department is headed by executive chef Rafael Hubilla.
Its main restaurant is the Manyaman. The name translates to the word “delicious.” The restaurant offers a mix of cuisines but the Kapampangan classic dishes are a must-try.
One dish is the paco salad, which is a local specialty. It’s a fern salad with a vinaigrette dressing topped with salted egg. Another local specialty is the bulanglang soup. It’s a soup with pork belly, native guava, and vegetables served with patis (fish sauce) for added seasoning. Then there’s the bringhe, another Kapampangan specialty. Manyaman’s version also uses turmeric to color the sticky rice and served like a paella topped with vegetables, eggs, and chicken inasal.
For something sweet, try the tibok tibok, which is a carabao milk pudding topped with latik (coconut milk curds).
There are two other restaurants— the Sabyan Cafe that serves coffee, freshly baked breads, pastries, pizza, pasta, burgers, among others, and The Galo Sports Bar that also serve casual dining options.
“With the opening of the Alviera Country Club, we mark a huge milestone in the estate’s growth and development. We look forward to welcoming members and guests to experience Pampanga hospitality at its finest,” Melanie says.