Hate Manila’s traffic? Want to move to the Moon?

Jose M. Galang - Your Business

Posted at Jan 12 2016 11:00 PM

For many of us fed up with Metro Manila’s horrendous traffic, pollution, noise and floods, the prospect of getting away from it all and living on the Moon — yes, the Moon with its pristine environment — sounds like a mesmerizing option.

Actually, the idea may no longer be far-fetched after recent news of a plan to set up a village on the Moon. A brainchild of the head of the European Space Agency, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, the proposed “Moon Village” is envisioned to be a multinational settlement that will have not just houses, a town hall and a church, but will be involved in joint space exploration and space technology experiments, according to recent BBC reports about the proposal.

Already, some private corporations in Europe and the United States have expressed interest in getting involved in the planning and creation of the Moon Village and in setting up business ventures in tourism and mining, the SpaceNews weekly reported last month.

Before you pack your bags and seek a booking with your travel agent or real-estate broker, however, note that the Moon Village is still a concept in the discussion stage. Alas, none of the governments that created the European Space Agency has declared support, much less funding, for the proposed lunar community.

More viable alternatives

While it will take several more years before that four-day trip to the location far, far away becomes commercially available, there are available destinations for the here and now, for those who are convinced that Metro Manila’s blight can only get worse in the next few years.

Increasingly, families are making their escape from the cacophony of the megacity in favor of such emerging commercial centers in Central Luzon as Pampanga’s capital city, San Fernando, in the north, and Laguna’s Sta. Rosa in the south.

Both can be reached by car in less than an hour after entering either of the major expressways — NLEX to San Fernando and SLEX to Sta. Rosa. Both also offer a wide range of amenities and services, including branches of malls and stores carrying high-end goods. In these cities you will likely not miss anything you had in Metro Manila, certainly not the traffic.

Sta. Rosa is attracting an increasing number of weekend tourists. For instance, at the Nuvali, which also straddles Calamba and Cabuyao in Laguna, more than 55,000 people converge on the environmentally planned city’s facilities on weekends, some of whom eventually decide to live there.

Officials of Ayala Land, which owns and develops the six-year-old Nuvali, say prices of lots are now in the neighborhood of P18,000 per square meter while commercial lots fetch about P40,000 a square meter. Two of the Metro Manila’s exclusive schools have campuses there, with a third currently being erected. Among the companies now operating in the Ayala eco-city are two business process outsourcing operations with offices located close to a Seda Hotel branch.

Growth that doesn’t suffocate

Located less than 70 kilometers north of Metro Manila, San Fernando has a population of about 300,000, which grows to around a million during the day as residents of nearby towns report for work in the local business establishments. Even as more businesses are being set up, residents do not feel suffocated by the pace of economic growth.

Big and small businesses find San Fernando an attractive location owing to its proximity to the national capital but more particularly the competitive quality of the local manpower and the high purchasing power of households that is estimated to exceed the national average.

San Fernando and Sta. Rosa are two of the reasons that should convince the national government to now come up with a systematic and comprehensive program to decongest Metro Manila in favor of centers of skills and commerce that are well managed and capable of accommodating “refugees” of Metro Manila’s bloat.

The slow crawl on Metro Manila’s main arteries, for instance, is now estimated to result in daily economic and productivity loss of P2.4 billion, which could nearly triple over the next 15 years. Think also of the pollution coming out of traffic gridlocks and the ill effects on people’s health.

Relocating to the moon will have to remain a distant dream for us in Metro Manila. But looking at alternatives such as San Fernando and Sta. Rosa seems more plausible — and still be within an hour’s drive away from the national capital.