How does a real estate company give young people a fun and healthy break before school starts again? By treating them to a day at Sandbox, Ayala Land, Inc.’s (ALI) leisure destination for young urban families, located at Alviera, the company’s mixed-use development in Porac, Pampanga.
ALI invited The Standard to share the exhilarating experience of 50 kids from Niños Pag-asa (which offers home care for children with disabilities) and Preda Foundation Youth Center (which reforms and rehabilitates abused young women) at the outdoor recreational park that is Sandbox. The kids, who are beneficiaries of Children’s Hour Philippines, Inc. (CHPI), were partnered with ALI employees and were divided into two groups— blue and green. These two groups took turns at the two main attractions of the place.
This activity was brought about by ALI’s partnership with CHPI to come up with a unique Friends Raising Program (FRP). FRP is a regular activity offered by CHPI for companies like ALI to promote volunteerism and social responsibility. As part of the program, ALI also turned over its employee donations generated from CHPI’s One Hour Campaign, where individuals are encouraged to donate an hour’s worth of their annual salaries for the non-profit organization’s various projects. Children’s Hour was founded by Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and is supported by numerous companies and institutions including the Ayala Group.
Before lunchtime, the blue group tried wall climbing, free falling and roller-coaster zip lining, while the green group tried the aerial walk obstacle course. At this point, the interaction between the children and employees became more apparent. One can see them sharing stories and cheering each other on. After lunch, the blue and the green changed places. They also had the option to try the giant swing, which rang with the screams of the riders. Archery is also offered onsite.
Lunch was piping hot adobo and tinola cooked in bamboo tubes by the indigenous people (IP) from Barangay Sapang Uwak, up the mountain range across the estate, served with rice cooked using the same technique called binulu. The elder IPs showed how to build fire using river stones and dried grass after lunch, followed by an impromptu program in which one of the kids sang “Meron Ba?” and some IP children willingly rapped a self-composed piece that tells the story of their community.
The Aetas have a small store at Sandbox to market the products and handicrafts of their cooperative, Ayta Kalamu Ka Kooperatiba.
John Estacio, Alviera general manager, said “We work hard to ensure that the culture and welfare of the indigenous community in the area are protected. A few members of the community have in fact started to work with us at the estate and have been very effective with ground maintenance and landscaping work.”
Estacio also shared that they aimed for “progress that radiates outward” and wanted the local community, including the IPs from Brgy. Sapang Uwak, to “grow with us.” An anthropologist helped Estacio’s team to properly learn and understand the IP way of life and also introduce livelihood projects in the larger local community. Seventy percent of the employees at Alviera are locally hired, in line with the company’s commitment to offer employment opportunities in Central Luzon.
Alviera, a 1,100-hectare integrated mixed-use development, will be an economic growth center, Estacio said, with an industrial park, three housing projects – Ayala Land Premiere, Alveo and Avida – schools, hotels and resorts, a country club and a retail district. The estate is just 1-1/2 hours from Manila, 20 minutes from Angeles and San Fernando, five minutes from Clark (and its airport), and 40 minutes from Subic (and its freeport). Phase I, which covers all these developments, is expected to be finished next year. Soon, two schools – Holy Angels University and Miriam College— will rise on the area.
The 31-hectare industrial park will house 16 light to medium, non-polluting industries registered with The Philippine Economic Zone Authority. These will go into plastic packaging, electronics, food processing and motorcycle assembly. Sandbox, on the other hand, will soon expand to include urban carting, a mini-golf course and a food and beverage place near the ticket counter.