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Santa Rosa City’s allure

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SANTA Rosa City is home to a number of “Big Business” including, among many of them, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and Coca-Cola Bottlers. Travelers to Laguna would easily notice the latter’s giant bottles that suggest what Coca-Cola bottles inside. As its slogan conspicuously manifests, “we are bottling happiness.”

Unlike Coca-Cola, travelers would find only a sign that shows SMC also owns a Santa Rosa unit but they would not know what it operates inside its compound. San Miguel may not be too far to see from Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road even if a sign tells them about the presence of San Miguel in Santa Rosa City.

By the way, why Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road?

The question is not new. Even the natives of Laguna would ask the same: Why call a major thoroughfare Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road, which happens to extend from Santa Rosa City to Tagaytay City? While Santa Rosa City used to be only a town of Laguna, Tagaytay City is part of Cavite.

Of course, this piece is not about the main road that connects Santa Rosa City to Silang, which is also a Cavite municipality, and eventually, to Tagaytay City. It is about the businesses that thrive in a major city of Laguna. As a matter of fact, Santa Rosa City has become the center of commerce of the province which is where a historical house in Calamba that belongs to the family of Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

Again, the detour is necessary so that both new and old residents of Santa Rosa would become aware of the city that they now call their home. Not a few of the residents of Metro Manila decided to live far away from the metropolis to savor what they have been missing as “provincianos.”

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Little did these “promdis,” after years of living in a different city that is Santa Rosa, know that their newly found town would someday become a city, too. They also failed to anticipate that the price of real-estate property in subdivisions where they now live would soar beyond their expectations: a 300-square meter lot would now fetch P6 million, or maybe even more. That would translate to P20,000, or even higher, per square meter, much too high from their acquisition price decades ago. 

Both Filipinos and foreigners only pass by Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road on their way to either Nuvali, across of which is Crown Asia, a subdivision run and managed by the Villars. Aside from Paseo de Santa Rosa, Nuvali, along with Solenad, is now the new attraction in the city. While Paseo de Santa Rosa is home to Kanin Club and Café Breton, Nuvali houses various restaurants that cater to travelers. Max also has a restaurant in both Nuvali and Paseo de Santa Rosa.

Two or three decades ago, not everybody knows AllHome and AllDay, the grocery chain owned by the Villar family. Today, they are all famous not only for the hardware that they sell but also the goodies that are sold in AllDay.

If one happens to be traveling to see Enchanted Kingdom, coming from Manila, he turns left of the road. Along the way, he would see Walter Mart before turning left to his destination, which is a few meters away from the Santa Rosa-Tagaytay-Road. If he decides to drive straight ahead, instead of going to Enchanted Kingdom, he would find himself at Balibago, which, incidentally, is only a barangay of Santa Rosa City.

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Balibago is not supposed to be home to a privately owned commercial center. Yet, it is destined to be one, perhaps by accident, even if it competes with the town proper as the center of commercial activities. The town proper may not be as famous as either Paseo de Santa Rosa or Nuvali but is home, too, to Santa Rosa City Hall.

It is neither Paseo and Nuvali nor Balibago that should have attracted business establishments to Santa Rosa City; it should have been the town proper. However, developments continue to be undertaken by private entities such as the Zobel-controlled Ayala Land Inc., which is a unit of Ayala Corp., or Lucio Tan, who owns Asia Brewery Inc. Neither should the Villars be the more dominant subdivision developers. All this should have located their businesses at the town proper where City Hall is situated.

No. The Zobels, who are also the developers of Santa Rosa States 1 and 2, the Villars, and the Tans found themselves preferring to locate their businesses away from Santa Rosa city hall. There should be a reason, or reasons, for their preference that even businessman Andrew Tan has joined the cast of developers who have flocked to Santa Rosa, which was not yet a city when he named his project there Laguna Bel-Air.

Emeterio SD Perez, a Santa Rosa resident, is a longtime business journalist and editor who writes a column for The Manila Times. Send feedback to esdperez@gmail.com.

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