Development after lahar
At the height of the lahar flows following the eruptions of Mount Pinatubo, well-known geologist and volcano expert Kelvin Rodolfo told a public gathering that folks whose lands and houses had been devastated by lahar should not despair.
If I remember right, Rodolfo advised the landowners to ensure that cadastral or land surveys of their lands be kept as accurate as possible because, “10 years from now, your lands will be among the most valuable pieces of real estate in the area.” This is because, he said, the lahar deposits would give the lands elevation that would keep them safe from floods.
Well, it’s been over a decade since the Pinatubo eruptions, and we are now beginning to see the fruits of the post-Pinatubo era in Central Luzon. One of these is the development of Alviera, a 1,100-hectare estate development in Porac, Pampanga, that will employ a “mixed-use” approach, combining “business, leisure, institutional, residential and recreational” features for those locating in the area.
“The stars aligned,” says Anna Bautista Dy, vice president of the Strategic LandBank Management Group of Ayala Land, which is developing Alviera in partnership with Leonio Land, to explain how Alviera came to be. The property is dominated by Hacienda Dolores, described by a local Pampanga real estate site as “a mix of hills, valleys and plains” with an “ambient view of the Zambales and Bataan mountainous region in the west and Mt. Arayat in the east.”
A big reason for Ayala Land’s decision to start a development in Central Luzon, says Dy, is the “very good road network” in the area. Alviera is along the SCTex access road, connecting the Angeles Porac Floridablanca Dinalupihan (APFD) Road to the SCTex Porac exit. It is about 25 minutes from the Subic Bay Freeport and 10 minutes from the Clark Freeport via SCTex, and an hour and 15 minutes from Trinoma in Quezon City.
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Although described as “largely barren” and lahar-covered land, the site of the Alviera development seems to be disputed territory.
Last year and early this year it was in the eye of controversy when farmers tilling the land protested the “harassment” by armed men forcing them to vacate their farms. Two farmer-leaders were also killed, with protest groups attributing their deaths to the land dispute. And far from being barren, Hacienda Dolores is a productive site, says columnist Katrina Stuart Santiago, who wondered, if this is idle land, “why would the developers have to clear it of mango, guava and coconut trees, rice land and vegetable crops? If this were land that had no tenants, why was there a need to fence off the land to bar farmers from their crops?”
In press materials, Ayala Land explains that its land contribution to the total development was “purchased from Manila Bank through a Deed of Sale.” Its partner Leonio Land bought the balance of the property from the Dayrit family of Pampanga, with “both areas exempted from CARP coverage based on a DAR Exemption Order with Certificate of Finality.”
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Dy herself waxes enthusiastic over Alviera and its surroundings, taking note of a nearby sea port (Subic), a “fantastic” road network, the “high educational level” of the population, and high income level of residents in Pampanga, Tarlac and surrounding provinces.
In addition, she expresses elation at the combination of “beautiful mountain ranges, flat plains and rivers” around Alviera, which she describes as “a whole new ecosystem.”
To highlight the environmental richness of the area, Ayala Land has also opened “SandBox,” an adventure park that offers leisure-goers such attractions as a giant swing, aerial walk, adventure tower, roller coaster zipline, mini-golf links, a children’s playground, ATV rides, a jogging path, a “run-and-bike trail,” a “pump track,” urban karting, archery field, and a guided trek to nearby Miyamit Falls.
SandBox is paired with the Alviera Country Club set in a sprawling 6-hectare area which is set to open soon. Dy describes the structure, designed by Leandro V. Locsin Partners, Architects, as “the heart of the development.” Aside from the usual amenities, it will boast of what Dy calls “a swimming pool on steroids,” and will serve as “a gathering place for the community.” As such, it will also offer a ballroom for large gatherings as well as a “kiddie area” for young members.
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Perhaps one of the most attractive come-ons to Alviera are the two schools set to open soon, certainly a magnet for young families seeking to locate there.
The first school is Angeles-based Holy Angel University, the largest educational institution in Pampanga with a student population of 20,000. Dy says the university administration is eyeing the new campus as a site for sports facilities, which the large area will allow.
The other school will be Miriam College, which is already opening a branch in Nuvali, the Ayala development in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Miriam College in Alviera will offer classes from grade school to college.
Dy is optimistic about the future for Alviera, stating that “the thing about Kapampangans is that they love coming home,” perhaps because the province is so near Metro Manila, but also because Kapampangans maintain a strong affinity to the towns and houses of their births.
Also, development toward the north of Luzon should serve as a magnet for other investors and locators, which would, it is hoped, start to decongest Metro Manila and bring urban amenities, paired with rural quiet and charm, to this part of the country.