It takes The Village to Bring a Community Together
By Tanya Laras | The Philippine Star
These three brothers grew up in BF Homes in Parañaque, back in the 1970s when Aguirre Avenue, the main road that now leads to the different BF subdivisions, was all grass and empty lots — with the exception of a handful of houses.
All there was, they say, was a clubhouse named BF Tropical with a swimming pool and a basketball court, but it got burned down and was never rebuilt. So all they could do to amuse themselves was bike around the area, hang out at Tropical Hut, and watch movies in the small theater near the clubhouse.
Today, it is the reverse. Aguirre Avenue is filled with restaurants, bars, salons, clinics, coffee shops, and spas — and only very few (as in one or two) remaining residential houses.
With BF Homes having around 12,000 households, it is the biggest subdivision in Asia. But still without proper sports facilities. That is, until last year, when The Village Sports Club at El Grande corner Tropical Avenue opened.
The members-only Village Sports Club is the first of its kind in Parañaque. It is authorized to sell 750 individual shares at P455,000 per share and 50 corporate shares at P675,000. (Shares at the nearest other sports club — though it has a golf course — range from P1.6 to P1.8 million.) Usage rights, of course, extend to the member’s spouse and children, and they can invite guests to use the facilities for a minimal fee.
Mike Garcia, president of The Village Sports Club, says, “When you have thousands of households in a certain area, you need something like this for people to enjoy, and to bring the community together. We want to bring back the way BF Homes was before — people knew each other, they interacted, and there was a real sense of community.”
But do people living south of Metro Manila — or even those in the north — have enough disposable income to buy club shares? “Oh, yes,” says Mike. “It’s better than buying a second-hand car. Imagine, it’s almost like equipping your house with swimming pools, a gym, a tennis, basketball and badminton courts, and a spa.”
The Village was conceptualized in 2005, and started construction in late 2006, and last year completed the first phase, which is the sports facilities.
Christopher Garcia, The Village corporate secretary, says, “We’re known for other projects — residential and commercial buildings — but not for this kind of development. We had to construct first so that people will believe in the project, because there have been other developments where the project did not deliver on its promises. We really had to build it first so they would come.”
Dr. Patrick Garcia, The Village vice president, says, “We consulted experts in each sport when we were building the facilities. We wanted world-class facilities.”
The development of phase one of The Village cost about P220 million and phase two will be P330 million. The result? A world-class sports club, thanks to the Garcia boys’ particular attention to the surfaces used in the different courts. The indoor basketball court, for instance, has FIBA-approved maple flooring; the four badminton courts are World Badminton Federation-certified. The two tennis courts have a clay surface, the same one used in the US Men’s Clay Court Championship. The tennis courts are now open and in the coming months, a 12-meter roof will be installed so members and their guests can use them during any weather conditions. There are also courts for volleyball and a futsal pitch, and an outdoor soccer field.
For those who love water, The Village has several swimming pools, the biggest of which is an eight-lane, 25-meter pool; while kids can play in the wading, lagoon and toddlers’ pools.
“The day you sign up, you should use the sports facilities,” says Mike. “It’s part of our health and wellness advocacy.”
Patrick shows us around the Zenith Wellness Center, which has a 500-sq.m. gym that boasts the latest TechnoGym machines. All the 12 cardio machines are iPod-intergrated so you can just plug in your iPod to listen to your music or watch your movies.
The gym also has Kinesis One, an exercise station that offers zero-impact exercises for improved strength and flexibility. The center also has a dance, yoga and Pilates studio. I’m a member of a chain of gyms and I can tell you that The Village’s gym is much better than my own gym and any gym in a five-star hotel in Manila. The Village’s investment for the gym alone was about P10 million.
Zenith also boasts a spa with wet and dry saunas, 14 treatment rooms and soon, the Novuderm Aesthetic Clinic, which will offer a wide variety of dermatological and skincare services like IPL hair removal, facial peels, skin rejuventation, and whitening. The clinic will offer the latest in weight loss through thermal slimming by radio frequency and body sculpting and cellulite reduction by Mesotherapy. The clinic will be run by Dr. Patrick Garcia.
After all the invigorating exercises, one can relax at the juice and snack bar and coffee shop. The food is great here, as the kitchens are run by Kulinarya, which has an outlet at Power Plant Mall.
“We wanted to provide good food to our members, and Kulinarya’s menu is in line with our wellness advocacy,” says Christopher.
The brothers are members of other country clubs — being avid golfers — and say they learned from their own experience as members. “We want our members to treat this as their second home. That they know they can come here to relax, to eat, to exercise, and to play.”
The Village can also host wedding receptions and parties with its function room able to accommodate up to 400 people — or smaller parties because the function room can be subdivided.
“There are three churches in the area where you can hold your wedding rites,” says Mike. “If you’re not Catholic, you can do a garden wedding at The Village.” A friend of mine, in fact, celebrated her daughter’s graduation from UP with a garden party at The Village.
Richard Gutierrez plays basketball here, says Christopher. And no, Richard doesn’t live in the south. “He just loves playing basketball here because the surface is NBA-grade. Paolo Abrera, who does live in the south, also enjoys the facilities of The Village with his family.
Atty. Diane Valerie Garcia, The Village board director and wife of Christopher, says, “We hear a lot of our members’ guests saying once they have played in our basketball court it’s hard to go back to their own court because ours is NBA-grade. It’s the same with our tennis and badminton courts.”
For families living south of Metro Manila, there has never been a better place — or time — to bring back that sense of community while enjoying sports.
Lifted from philSTAR.com