Finding home in PH’s ‘Little Rome’
If the City of Lipa in Batangas isn’t on your radar yet, it should be.
Although more low-key than its splashy beach-lined neighbors in the province, the mountainside town has been making waves of its own recently.
In 2016, Nestlé Philippines announced that it was investing P2-billion in a 5,400-square meter plant in Lipa that would produce the malt requirements for Milo products. Lipa is only the fourth place in the world, after Singapore, Nigeria and Australia, where the No. 1 food and beverage company has decided to establish a malt plant—and that’s only the beginning.
Keeping the momentum going, AboitizLand announced in June this year that it was going to develop a sprawling outlet mall in Lipa that, at around 200 brands, may likely be the biggest in the country yet.
A mere 90-minute drive from the capital, urbanites will no doubt head to the city in droves to take advantage of the yearlong discounts on premium brands when it opens in 2018.
But even though industry heavy-hitters have thrust Lipa into the limelight with their multibillion-peso investments and grand ambitions, the city has long had a distinct culture, storied history and irresistible character that has charmed locals, visitors and developers alike.
Even in 2010, Lipa was already ranked as one of the Top 10 “Next Wave Cities” by the Commission of Information and Communication Technology, after a steady influx of business process outsourcing firms elevated the city’s income classification to first class.
Whether it’s the century-old homes dripping with history, celebrated barako coffee industry that has spurred a vibrant café culture or its perfect location (flanked by mountains on both sides, Lipa is shielded from typhoons), there is, and always has been, a good reason to get acquainted with the city.
Often because of its Old World feel and the magnificent scale of its churches, like Mount Carmel Church and San Sebastian Cathedral, Lipa has been christened the “Little Rome of the Philippines,” a moniker it lives up to not just through its sights but its very way of life.
La dolce vita
It’s no wonder that property developers, like Suntrust Properties Inc., have picked up on this and taken it a step further—offering Lipa residents the ability to live la dolce vita, the Italian phrase that means “the good life” and is often interchangeable with the highly revered Italian lifestyle itself.
This is through its Siena Hills development in Lipa, which takes its name after the stunning medieval city in Italy’s countryside region of Tuscany, acclaimed for its rolling hills and sun-soaked art and heritage sites.
The mere façade of the Siena Hills—which depicted the story of the birth of Rome—will surely inspire love with the community at first sight.
“The theme of the project was inspired by our officers’ … visits to Rome/Italy,” said Suntrust President Atty. Harry M. Paltongan.
“It is also inspired by the fact that many of the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) in Lipa are employed in Italy or other European countries. We are motivated to give them a community echoing a similar ambiance to the one which they are used to abroad,” he added.
Indeed, Batangas, where the biggest city is Lipa, is one of the five provinces of Calabarzon, the region with the biggest share of OFWs at 21 percent, according to data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority in April.
Laidback Italian lifestyle
OFWs returning home may find that they can experience the laidback Italian lifestyle, which emphasizes indulging in only the things that bring the greatest pleasure, without ever having to leave home.
At 49 hectares, Siena Hills is complete with a pool, basketball court, jogging trail and pocket gardens, and features a range of options from a “Heavenly” three-bedroom abode to a 179-sqm, five-bedroom house with two verandas and a carport with ceramic tiles.
The City of Lipa is truly having a moment—and living la dolce vita in Siena Hills is the best way to capture it.
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