OF TREES AND FOREST
By Manny Villar
Whenever we talk about how beautiful the Philippines is, we are most probably referring to our provinces and our countryside. Don’t get me wrong, Metro Manila has its own charms — the historic center in Intramuros, the grit and appeal of Manila, the modernity of its business districts.
But nothing compares to the beauty of the Philippine countryside. I know this firsthand as I had the great pleasure of visiting our provinces as a candidate and public servant. I also had this wonderful opportunity to see the beauty of the Philippines as an entrepreneur as I visit the sites of our real estate and retail business.
I have always loved the Philippine countryside. And looking back, this has always been the foundation of the success of Camella Homes. When we embarked on a rapid expansion after the 1998 financial crisis, I saw to it that the best Camella communities are built in the provinces. Not in Metro Manila but in the countryside.
In a way, this idea went against the traditional notion that the best structures, the best business establishments are to be built in the nation’s capital. No, for us it is the other way around. We built the most beautiful Camella Homes in the beautiful provinces of our country.
This philosophy has also guided our retail businesses. A few weeks back, we inaugurated the stunning Vista Mall in Iloilo. And we were fortunate to have no less than President Rodrigo Duterte officially inaugurate our 23rd mall in the country.
I would like to personally thank President Digong for taking time out of his busy schedule to join us in opening Vista Mall to our kasimanwa in Iloilo. This is a testament to the President’s dedication to the idea that we need to support countryside development.
Since assuming office in 2016, the Duterte administration has encouraged us to look beyond the capital and spur development in the provinces. In our own small way, Vista Land is supporting this initiative by ensuring that our kababayans in the provinces are also provided with quality housing, beautiful communities, and integrated master-planned developments.
The development of Vista Mall Iloilo triggers our mall expansion outside the Greater Manila area. We have residential projects in 47 provinces across 141 cities and municipalities around the country and opening malls in most, if not all, of those areas, would be Vista Land’s contribution to ensuring that our provinces are not left behind.
Located in the massive 500-hectare Vista Land Communicity Savannah in Oton, this is our biggest initiative in the whole Visayas. But as I emphasized in my speech during our opening; “Hindi lang pinakamalaki ang habol ko, ang habol ko pinakamaganda.”
This project is very close to my heart because it brings to life our commitment to build a complete and self-sustaining community for Ilonggos — by establishing “communicities,” livable urban expansions that combine residential developments with lifestyle, retail, and leisure.
In his brief remarks, the President encouraged Vista Land and other Filipino companies to put up more investments and bring in more quality jobs for Filipinos. “What is really very redeeming is that it (Vista Land) is owned by a Filipino,” the President said.
We thank the President for his support and his kind words. We will heed the call of the President. We will continue to support his policies of directing development to the countryside. In fact, last June 15, 2018, we also opened Vista Mall Naga to our dear Bicolanos. Our Vista Mall in Naga and its retail brands — All Home, All Day, and Coffee Project — are part of our commitment to give Bicolanos unparalleled retail experience which they deserve.