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From rustic to cosmopolitan

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MAKATI NORTH of Manila.

Over five years ago, it was once-forever and still-future Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales that first arrogated unto his domain, Mabalacat City, that appellation that bespeaks of the highest level of urban progress in the Philippine setting.

Morales’ grounded the claim on his city’s positioning as the central business district of Pampanga, “owning” the greater part of the Clark Freeport Zone, its international airport included.

Makati of the North.

Mayor Condralito de la Cruz staked his own claim of the title for his beloved Porac, “solidly” grounded on the committed investment of P75-billion for the Alviera development covering 1,800 hectares in Hacienda Dolores.

Today, both Morales and Dela Cruz are out of office: the former infamously ousted by the Comelec in 2017 for having overstayed, the latter gloriously stepping down after three full terms. As contrasting as their political fade-out is the direction taken by their Makati wishes.

Where Mabalacat City is yet to show but the slightest semblance of Makati anywhere in its territory, Porac already has the Ayalas – Makati’s very creators – putting all their money’s worth in their Alviera project.

For years now, posterizing Alviera is the Sandbox adventure theme park, a crow’s short hop from the Porac exit of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

Last Wednesday, July 31, opened what can be the very jewel of the estate – the Alviera Country Club, unarguably Central Luzon’s premium fi tness and recreation destination.

Backdropped by the Porac mountains, the sprawling 5.6-hectare country club designed by Leandro V. Locsin Partners already makes an al fresco masterpiece by itself.

The amenities are…for want of a better word, five-star – a network of swimming pools, a gym with dance studio, and multiple indoor courts for basketball, volleyball, tennis and badminton. For children, there is an outdoor splash park, an indoor play area, locker room and change area.

Then there are the well-appointed ballrooms, restaurants and bars, a mini-cinema, a spa – all bearing Capampangan names.

Who could have ever thought of such grandeur ever being born out of the desolation of lahar wastes and cogon wilderness?

Roy David

I remember the dearly lamented Mayor Roy David.

The worst of the Mount Pinatubo eruptions having subsided, the volcanic debris that buried his town transformed – at his initiative – into the very instrument of its rising – sand quarrying, the mayor saw beyond, way beyond, the thousands of dump trucks and hundreds of payloaders ringing in the needed revenues 24/7 to the municipal cash registers.

There’s more to Porac than sand, he was wont to say, his eyes moist at the industrial and commercial enterprises then starting to locate at the Clark ecozone.

In 1997, hearing of furniture magnate Pert Cruz of Angeles City having secured a vast tract of land in Porac abutting the city, David lost no time in engaging Cruz to his development mindset. Materialized there, the magnificent Royal Garden Golf and Country Club in 2008.

No, David did not see his dream coming to fruition, having died in 2002, but he could not have even dreamt of, and be happier more, with the Alviera development right in the heart of the Porac homeland.

Aside from the leisure component, there is the Alviera Industrial Park, where now in place are noodle manufacturer Monde Nissin, and stone-engineering firm Badan Building Materials in its Phase 1 area. Soon coming is Heavy Duty Manufacturing, Inc. engaged in quality exhaust components for different industries. With strong demand for more industrial space, 32 additional hectares have been opened up for a new phase.

And of course, the residences – Avida Land already accommodating move-ins for its first community, is on its second project; Alveo Land with similar success, also opening sales for a second residential project; and Ayala Land Premier scheduled to launch its second residential community as well.

And more: The Alviera East Commercial Center set for completion in 2020. The campuses for Miriam College Alviera and Holy Angel University to commence construction with target completion and operations in 2022 and 2023 respectively. The 23-hectare La Salle Botanical Garden with its nursery already in place be operational by 2020.

Aye, from rusticity to the metropolitan, with all the finer things it brings, Porac has made the leap.

Makati of the North, indeed.

Pride of place is premium motivation in appropriating successful brand names for another. Even when it sounds, and truly makes like that dialog from that Sharon Cuneta starrer as “a second-rate, trying-hard copycat.”

Aping the good in another is no monkeying around, it is serious business, profitable when it brings in the results. As in Porac. But not in Mabalacat, as yet.

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