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 Saturday, March 11, 2017 

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THE MOMENT I quit my job in 1975 and secured a P10,000 loan to buy two reconditioned trucks in order to start a gravel and sand delivery business, it was very clear to me what I wanted to achieve as an entrepreneur.

I wanted to become not just a businessman or a real estate developer but also someone who helps people build their dreams.

From those two trucks to Camella Homes to Vista Land, I have always believed that my calling is not just to build houses but also to help build communities. Modesty aside, I also think that what we do contributes, in a small way, to building our nation.

The sociologist Ferdinand Toennies defined a community as not just as a collection of individuals living in a particular territory, but as “an organic social group whose members are bound together by the sense of belonging, created out of everyday contacts covering the whole range of human activities.”

I am not a sociologist but I prefer to call them “communicities.” In Vista Land, we aim to build innovative master-planned city developments designed to be completely self-contained, with vast properties that offer facilities, amenities, community structures and commercial establishments closer to a city than a mere residential village.

This was the principle behind Savannah City in the province of Iloilo. Savannah City, our grand flagship house and lot development in Iloilo City, is comprised by five magnificently designed enclaves – The Crest, The Trails, The Glades, The Orchard, and The Glen – complete with lifestyle amenities, such as the clubhouse with swimming pool, children’s playground, open and covered ball courts, and jogging and biking paths. It also has its own school, church, and business establishments.

At a time that our cities are becoming urban jungles, grappling with the excesses of urbanization, we need to offer Filipinos livable communities. Communities where they can achieve their dreams for their children.

Unfortunately, traffic congestion seems to be one of the dark sides of development. As many areas here in Panay experience tremendous growth, the number of people traveling to and from work also increases. In addition, with more purchasing power people will buy cars which means more congestion on the road.  

Traffic also affects communities because it tends to result in pollution. Some studies even suggest that traffic has a severe impact on the personalities of people. Road rage would be a clear example of that.

What we need to do is manage how our cities develop. We need to make our cities livable. “Livability” refers to the quality of life a city offers. It includes transportation, education, recreation, and sustainability.

Iloilo City, Bacolod City and other urban areas in the region can take a page right out of the Tokyo experience. Tokyo continues to fascinate me because of its ability to make itself livable despite the fact that it is a megalopolis. I think there are many lessons we can learn in terms of making our communities livable again.

Tokyo has a population of 13.5 million as of 2015. This is increases during daytime to close to 15 million as workers and students from other areas add to the count.

Despite its huge urban population, Tokyo has avoided many of the problems related to urbanization. In fact, it has been consistently regarded as one of the most livable city in the world.

In my many visits to Tokyo, I have tried their trains both in off peak and rush hours. And they are efficient and clean. And the city provides its people with spaces to walk, sit and talk. You can ride a public transportation and walk from the station to a lush, green park.

Communicities are not just houses and roads. Communicities are built on the idea that we need to make life better for people. We need to provide our citizens with public spaces like parks, plazas, sidewalks, among others.

I am happy that through Savannah City and other projects in the Panay region, we can contribute somehow to making sure that our communities are vibrant and livable./PN




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