A community center in any village is the physical reflection of the vision and capability of its residents to stand united in addressing its different social, cultural, health and security needs, among others. It is structurally a product of the residents’ commitment to offer its families a venue for meetings, engaging in social, health and business activities and in leisurely pursuing other concerns of families, residents and guests.
More than the physical structure, the VV5 community center is the symbolic essence of more than eight years of conceptualizing, planning and implementation of various projects by visionaries and committed VV5 residents, some of whom became members of the Board.
I joined the Board in 2005 during the presidency of Jolan Lumawig where the concept of long range planning was introduced. A 5-year master plan on the community center was conceptualized, planned and drafted. The first Mission/Vision statement of Valle Verde 5 was developed at that time and the first planning session identified the need to consolidate and upgrade our facilities, then tear the old clubhouse to provide a wider space to serve as children’s playground or a family picnic area. The one key homeowner that Jolan & I would like to acknowledge was Dr. Nathaniel “Dinky” Von Einsiedel. An Architect and a specialist in urban planning, the physical master plan of the park was formally designed, then continued with all stages of implementation (Cabana, Asparagus parking, new basketball gym, etc.) until today’s new building. I was and have been a believer and proponent of the plan ever since and continued to support it. Unfortunately, Jolan is out of the country, and Dinky is also out of town. Can we acknowledge Jolan, Dinky and the board members at that time? A round of applause please?
In 2007, I attended the first meeting of my third year as a Board member. Jolan asked me to sit on a specific chair, and commented: ‘’Yan and upuan ng presidente.” I was new in the Board, and I was not yet that familiar with the culture and procedures in the Board. So, I protested. But it was Joe Aranas who persuaded me to commit. Of course, everybody knew Joe and remembers him, right? He had been looking after our village for as long as I can remember. Joe assured me that he would support and help me out. So I agreed, and became president. But halfway during my term, Joe left us. “Now what?”, I asked myself.
Shortly after, I received a call from Dr. Patria Aranas, the better half of Joe. In consonance with her favorite semantics, ”Holy Spirit in Overdrive”, she offered to help out, as she felt it was her responsibility to carry on Joe’s legacy. She started to narrate her impressively long CV that I had to politely cut her off, and then, gladly accepted her offer. Ladies and gentlemen, let us acknowledge the help of the person who has worked behind the scene through the years … and through whose persistence all that we see in the park and community center was made possible… Dr. Patria Aranas.
In my on and off Board membership, I remember that the Board had always been deterred from pursuing the implementation of this master plan project due to funding constraints. Meanwhile, the plan continued to be improved and streamlined.
Our break came in 2009, when a retired Shell executive was invited and joined the Board. His expertise in numbers, creative financing and masterful financial projections, made the implementation of the master plan a feasible scheme. He personally supervised the construction of the various structures you now see at the park including the cabana, the basketball court, the gates, and others as if it was his own.
While all these constructions incurred costs that were accomplished exclusively with association resources, I am happy and proud to say that we have still maintained a healthy balance sheet. May I ask Mr. Eli Santiago to rise and be recognized by an appreciative community?
Over time, various improvements were made in our village, from improvements of Squash Drive, our perimeter CCTV, in the parking lot, the construction of the cabanas, the basketball court and the gate renovations, among others, and finally, the construction of the Community Center and eventually landscaping.
To build the Community Center, many significant contributions were made by other residents who are experts in their own fields, like Architects Via Lauron and Berlin Gascon. Architect Mastrile, a VV5 resident, volunteered the services of Engr. Jen Silva from his office to check on the progress of the construction during its early phase and to inspect the construction’s adherence to the structural plans. Architect Ludi Gonzales, likewise contributed her expertise. Then there’s also Menchi Tantoco, an interior designer, whom we tapped and gladly gave her time to finish our gates. The 101 homeowners with SMC Condominium paying one-year advance dues providing counterpart funds. Past Presidents Charlie Yu Galan, Mon de la Llana and Eli Santiago and their members of the board. I’m sure there are others I have failed to mention. Let us also give them a hand….
The Community Center is our flagship. A large sum of funding was necessary to put up this Center as we see it today. Even with Eli around, It seemed next to impossible to complete this, until former Mayor Bobby Eusebio approved a budget to assist us in its construction. Mayor Maribel Eusebio continues her support to the project to this day. I know they’re not around, but let’s give them a big round of applause anyway.
Throughout the years of improvements and construction of the Community Center complex, the VV5 community amplified its commitment and generosity by involving ourselves in various projects that benefited the residents not only of VV5, but mostly of the surrounding less-privileged communities of Pasig. The projects include, among others,
- The VV5 joint project with the Ateneo Public Health Program – that offered and provided micro-financing to poor families;
- The Outreach Program that continued to feed from 200 to 300 families of Barangay Ugong; and the
- “Learning English through Stories” project that was made possible through the deliberate effort of the VV5 community and implemented among grades 2 and 3 school children of Felipe Legaspi Memorial School, helping these children learn reading and English comprehension, also in Barangay Ugong.
Finally, the VISION of the VV5 Community Center continues to be visualized and implemented, and as past president Mon de la Llana described, “through the dynamic and resolute resolve of the Board of Directors” these past years to translate the Nathaniel Von Einsiedel Design into completed structures. There are some more areas to improve on as we move towards the completion of our ideal Center. Some more funds are required. It still may seem tedious and wearisome to raise funds. But all the improvements of the Community Center have constantly renewed our community spirit.
Our community, I believe, has now embraced the ideals of creativity, unity and commitment to purpose. Let us actualize our dream of a completed Community Center by contributing our ideas… ourselves as we fund-raise for the goal.
Let’s all STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!
In closing, I wish to thank you all for the support afforded to me and the past presidents and to the present and past board members. As we anticipate with hope and joy the birth of our savior Jesus Christ, In behalf of the committees and your board of directors, I wish you and your love ones a very Merry Christmas.
Raul Gat. Agustin
5th Valle Verde Homeowners Association, Inc.