By Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman

NUVALI revels in nostalgia, but at the same time, it is forward-looking. Its contradictions allow it to look at the past with sentimentality while living in the present and creating a future with lessons learned from the times gone by. The 2,290 hectare mixed-used property, a project of Ayala Land, is designed with the idea of Manila before it became what is now — a crowded urban jungle. Nuvali vows not to become another limited and suffocating urbanized city with no spaces for human interactions. Forty percent of the development is allocated to open spaces that encourage the public, both residents and visitors, to walk, jog, cycle, play, and read under the trees. The property is home to 51,986 trees, 86% of which are native species. Fifty percent of the residential areas are open spaces for its 6,000 current inhabitants, majority of whom are the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). The Ayala Land development townships in Nuvali are Ayala Land Premier, Alveo, Avida, and Amaia.

“We leave nature as it is and we don’t want to have any interventions with it as much as possible. Majority of our land owners are OFWs who have lived and worked abroad and have their expectations based on the country they’ve temporarily called home. They are seeking a serene escape,” said Nuvali General Manager John Estacio in a meeting with journalists on Oct. 9 at Seda hotel, another Ayala property that also champions a sustainable lifestyle.

Seda, an eco-friendly hotel, is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) silver certified hotel and recipient of the Urban Land Institute Philippines’ Healthy Places Award. The hotel faces a man-made lake with lanes for bicycle riders and pedestrians.

Nuvali’s overarching brand is about sustainable and green living. “People have come to appreciate a lifestyle that embraces sustainability,” added Mr. Estacio.

Sixty-four percent of the huge Nuvali property — or 1,458 hectares — are already developed for concrete edifices like shopping malls, a hotel, a hospital, a big grocery, business offices, a convention hub, and two schools (Xavier School and Miriam College) set amidst Mother Nature. Future plans, according to Mr. Estacio, include another Seda hotel, an extended shopping mall, “and perhaps a museum.” He said the construction of a new building depends on the demand.

Visiting a future city

While it may not have a museum or art gallery yet, the property already has a sprinkling of outdoor art installations by Michael Cacnio, Juan Carlo Calma, and Eduardo Castrillo.

Nuvali — from the words “nova,” or the birth of a star, and “valley,” where it is situated — gets around 60,000 visitors per weekend. Tourists can either drive there — Nuvali is less than an hour away from Metro Manila if the traffic is light — or they can take a P2P bus from the Glorietta, BGC, and Balibago stations (P250).

There visitors can enjoy recreational activities which revolve around the idea of interacting with nature. For an entrance fee of P20, visitors can pick fruits and vegetables at an organic farm called Greens and Patches. Whatever they pick is weighed and priced accordingly. Beside the farm is a zone called Camp N, which purposely lures people to move around and have fun in its obstacle courses, rope courses, and an aerial walk.

Nuvali also has a 50-km mountain bike trail.

The property is home to a thriving wildlife and bird sanctuary for endemic species. When the beeps of our smart phones and the buzzes of the city life are the usual sounds of our daily life, the aviary is a good reminder that there are other sounds in the world we need to hear: the chirps and tweets of birds, and the rustling sounds the leaves make when the wind kisses them.

The main attractions of Nuvali are the things we used to enjoy, but alas, took for granted.