OF TREES AND FOREST
Former Senate President
It is true what Indian writer Anita Desai once wrote: “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” Going to other places are not temporary destinations where you merely stop and go. They stay with you — the beauty and the ruggedness, the people and culture. There are many types of travelers. You have the business traveler, the backpackers and adventure traveler, the touristy traveler, the shopping traveler, the photo/selfie traveler, the pilgrim, among others.
Whatever type you may be, what you experience becomes part of you. When you first experience the beauty of another place you will have a longing for it long after you have returned home. When you experience your first ride in an efficient and clean mass rail system you bring that back home and wonder why your country is unable to have one. When you have that first taste of cacio e pepe or pho you will find yourself imagining its taste and smell.
I would probably classify myself as a chill-out or laidback traveler. When my family and I travel, I enjoy simply sitting in a cafe or bistro, sipping my coffee, and just watching that part of the world do its thing. Some travelers shop or roam every corner of a museum but I like to just chill in a corner.
But I am also an entrepreneur traveler. By that I mean I am the kind of leisure traveler who also thinks about business. I enjoy the view but I also think: “Hmm, this is something we should do back in the Philippines.” Our travel destinations have become wellsprings of ideas and sources of inspiration. This is the way in which our destinations become part of me. They become part of my vision, my dreams and my grand plan for Vista Land in the Philippines. As I have said many times, “Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur.”
The perfect example is Solvang, California where we frequently go during the holidays as a family. The City of Solvang is the Danish Capital of America. It has carried on the Danish traditions of language, folk dancing, music and cuisine. I remember walking the flower-lined streets flanked with Danish farm-style architecture and windmills of all sizes. It’s a beautiful city. And I think I was sitting in one of my favorite cafes there when I said to myself: “I want to build this city in the Philippines. I want to recreate this gorgeous town back home.”
And I did. We built Crosswinds in Tagaytay which is essentially inspired by the destination that gave many fond memories to me, my family and my closest colleagues. Crosswinds in Tagaytay is in many ways like a living photo album of our travels together. Some people still print their travel pictures and place them in albums. Some accumulate thousands of photos in their phones. Me? I build our best travel memories.
In Crosswinds Tagaytay we also recently put up Napa which was inspired by the Northern California hills and farmhouses in Napa Valley also in California. We also have Roma Cafe in Molito which is our modern take on the classic feel of Italy. When I first visited our Roma Cafe, I suddenly remembered the time when I was drinking cappuccino or caffe in one of their street-side cafe. Those of you who have visited Rome before know that its city street is like a living museum. We also opened San Marco at the Evia Lifestyle Center, another concept store of Coffee Project that was inspired by our strolls in the streets of Italy.
One of the things that this pandemic has deprived us of is our ability to wander, not just in our own country but around the world. I am sure that just like me, all of you are itching to pack your travel bags and go to your favorite destination as soon as we can safely do so. But while that is impossible at this time, we can just travel vicariously by looking at our photos, reminiscing with friends, and visiting one of these places that can transport you to that favorite corner of the world. It’s not the same but that’s the best we can do for now.