By Zsarlene B. Chua
ROBINSONS Land Corp. (RLC) ended 2018 by opening its 51st mall — the 80,000 square meter Robinsons Place Valencia in Valencia City, Bukidnon, a second-class city with a population of more than 20,000 people.
“Malaybalay might be the capital [of Bukidnon] but Valencia is the economic center,” Arlene G. Magtibay, general manager, commercial centers division of RLC, told BusinessWorld during the opening in December.
The mall was a long time coming, said Ms. Magtibay, as it took them a long time before finding a property suitable to build a mall in Valencia.
“Sometimes, even if we want to go to a certain city, the right property isn’t available — such was the case here,” she explained.
The wait was worth it as the mall, designed by Pasig-based Lichauco Guilas+Villanueva (LG+V) Architects, focused on creating open spaces, taking advantage of natural light and of course, paying homage to one of the province’s main produce — pineapple.
(It was in 1926 that American company Del Monte opened its first pineapple plantation in Asia which resulted in the 5,000-hectare plantation located in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, roughly two hours away from Valencia).
Valencia City is located almost three hours away from Malaybalay and has a climate similar to Baguio City due to its higher elevation — an average of 300 meters above sea level, although some parts reach as high as a kilometer above sea level.
The new mall’s facade features yellow accents with a pattern suggesting the skin of a pineapple, and because of the city’s cool weather, Robinsons Place Valencia features an open-air Skypark overlooking the Pantaron mountain range — which is said to offer a beautiful view of the golden rice fields during harvest season — and a koi pond.
The interiors also feature pineapple-inspired pillars while a sculpture by Manila-based artist Sam Penaso decorates the mall’s atrium. The work, titled Seven Tribes, celebrates the diversity and unity of ethnic tribal groups of Bukidnon: the Higaonon, Matigsalug, Manobo, Talaandig, Tigwahanon, and Umayamnon.
Dining options abound at the mall including Gerry’s Grill, Choobi Choobi, and Bigby’s, alongside Valencia City favorites including Hinam-Is, a cafe known for its homemade and Bukidnon-sourced desserts.
The mall also includes Robinsons’ anchor tenants including the supermarket, department store, Tom’s World, and Daiso Japan.
Ms. Magtibay also noted that they put six cinemas inside the mall — with one 3D cinema — so residents don’t need to travel for hours just to watch the newest releases.
In 2018, RLC opened four malls — Pavia in Iloilo, Ormoc in Leyte, Tuguegarao in Cagayan Valley, and Valencia in Bukidnon — bringing its total leasable area to 1.508 million square meters.
This year, the company is poised to open malls in San Pedro and Antipolo while expanding Robinsons Magnolia in Quezon City.
By Zsarlene B. Chua