Laguna '10 - Sustainable Tourism and Ecoliving at NUVALI

October 20, 2010 (Wednesday)

I first heard the terms "NUVALI", "running" and "clean air" used in the same sentence during a conversation with my friends one evening. We were talking about joining the marathon craze and the NUVALI Trail Run came up. The annual Bull Runner Marathon was also held here. I am not a running enthusiast by heart so I put the idea aside along with the KMs and the weight-control thoughts. The second time the term "NUVALI" came up was when the news of the new Xavier School groundbreaking broke out. At that time, I thought it was just about some new real estate being developed far down south of Manila.

This is the first time though that I have heard of the term "Evoliving". In our present age of enlightenment, news about going green has been spreading like wildfire because of climate change. Those who have been moved are slowly being enticed to protect the earth in their own little ways. Imagine sustaining that spark by a thousand fold and lighting an idea that is no longer just a few hours of Earth Hour but is a way of living for an entire community. I believe "Evoliving" will not just be a fad because where there are those who are building their houses and their entire lives in it now, others will follow. While you may not be an avid advocate of going green yet, I encourage you to open your eyes to the fun-filled activities and sites available in a place that promotes evoliving and sustainability called NUVALI. Anyone can enjoy a short getaway to this new travel spot. We are going back to the time when simple living is an enjoyable experience.

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The Location and Getting There

NUVALI covers parts of Sta. Rosa and Calamba. It is a 1800+ hectare development of the Ayala Land in cooperation with the Yulo family. For those of you who don't know, Ayala is the developer of successful projects such as the Forbes Park, Bel Air Village, Makati Central District, Alabang Town Center and Ayala Alabang Village, Glorietta, Serendra, Trinoma and other Ayala Malls. NUVALI is, surprisingly, just an hour away from Makati. The directions can be found here via South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). I suggest going there by car since the place is HUGE as it is designed to house a community of forward-thinkers.


It is mostly undeveloped residential and commercial land now but the activities I will mention here can be done by any visitor today even if you don't own any NUVALI property. The project is 40 years or less in the making and I think it is only on its 2nd.

Bird-Watching Tour at Wildlife Sanctuary and The Gazebo

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There is a trail available and a guide but you need to register at the Evoliving Center. They say that the Haribon Foundation has found 78 species of birds here and the best time to go is very early in the morning. The Gazebo is also one of the locations for sight-seeing.

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Evoliving Center

The center was built to exhibit the sustainable building and development of NUVALI. Inside you will find displays that showcases the making of a community built on having a green lifestyle. There are interactive modules that illustrate how we can use and reuse for waste segragation, recycling (like rugs from circuit boards and pavement from pet bottles), water conservation and alternative modes of transportation.

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You'll also find this yearning in the walls. Can you relate?

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Outside, you will see that the building itself has a different structure and is energy efficient. The path will also lead you to the docks, where a water taxi will take you to Solenad, the lakeside retail center, across a water-treated manmade lake.


Water Taxi Ride and Koi Fishfeeding

While on your way to Solenad, take notice of reeds growing along the sides of the lake. These make great breeding grounds for the kois.


The fountains supposedly aerate the water to make it an ideal for keeping these fish alive and breeding them.


The water taxis also aerate the water and mainly serve as employees' alternate mode of transportation in the area. A single trip costs P15. (*Note: So far, Convergys is occupying One Evotech. One feature of One Evotech is that it has bike ramps inside the building so you can bike all the way to the 4th floor if you work here! With no elevators and a lot of open areas, it encourages office personnel to have an alternative and healthier lifestyle.)

When you alight from the water taxi, look down from the docks and you'll see LOTS of medium to big koi fish waiting to be fed NUVALI treats (around P10 per pack, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).


I have never seen hundreds of well-trained and domesticated cute fish opening their mouths by the dozens and waiting to be fed!


Try putting your hand in the air and you can actually fool them that you have food (but you can only trick them once or twice).


I will have nightmares if I accidentally fall into this lake.

Dining Alfresco


You could never take the city out of us and it is understandable that some popular restaurants in the city have made their way to Solenad. Being "lakeside" makes it different in a way. For me, the experience was different. Italianni's is just another common Italian restaurant in Manila and their food was forgettable for me before this.

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As per personal experience, it has one of the best services around and the managers and staff actually go out of their way to give you due attention. I was a little disappointed when the food took too long to arrive and they stuffed us with all the timeless focaccia and Tuscan bread we could eat. It was a little understandable because the place was packed with expats and diners mostly from the nearby Laguna Technopark offices.

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My attention was brought back to the table when their classic specialties started arriving. The Sicilian salad was superb. I loved the Pizza Abbodanza (especially the one with mozzarella, parmesan, asiago and presidente...). The Angel Hair Pomodoro was just right. The Classic Carbonara was yummy too with the flavorful button mushrooms.

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Sitting outside would enhance the experience because you can feel the undisturbed feel of the place there. This time it was not too cold and not too hot. The feel was the same for the Starbucks experience that followed.


Other restaurants include Pig Out, Reyes Barbeque, Crisostomo, Natural Trails Cafe (they say bikers frequent here for healthy biker food), Yellow Cab, Brother's Burger and Conti's.

Other Possible Activities You Can Do But are Seasonal or Will Require Permission

Seasonal activities depend on event organizers. Upcoming events can be found here. Other activities primarily cater to outdoor adventure enthusiasts. Sports (some extreme) have been held at NUVALI because of the open fields (soon they will make way for the housing and commercial projects).

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Examples include: trail running, biking, power kiting and hot air balloon. Soon (maybe next year), there will be a wakeboarding site (the same operators of Camsur Wakeboarding will lease the area) at NUVALI. They will also launch baseball, football and volleyball fields (primarily for inter-school matches) sometime in November 2010. For other non-sports activities, I have heard that there have been tree-planting efforts, bazaars, organic markets (I think every 3rd weekend of the month) and biking (P60 per hour, rented).

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I suggest (although I think you need permission) going on a nature trail and doing some nature photography, capturing NUVALI's night scene (if any, the Ecoliving Center looks good at night) and finding the products made by the communities that NUVALI supports (such as handmade baskets made from old newspapers).


You can also learn about building your own a green home by visiting the "Green" House in Avida Settings. There exists a house that is cooler in the inside than others because of its structure.

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Inside you can find more green and practical uses for things we normally consider as throwaways.

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I am sure a lot more activities will come up in a few years in NUVALI. I believe this will be a greener Bonifacio Global City with controlled low to medium high rises in time. It's a nice chillout place and seasonal activity center for now. We may not be there yet to fight global warming and climate change but I believe this is a good start. Remember: Green means go!

Laguna '10 - Sustainable Tourism and Ecoliving at NUVALI