El Rio Bamboo is envisioned to be a world-class bamboo plantation, resort-observatory, and residential community bordering the clean and beautiful Diaman River in Barangay Debucao, Maria Aurora, in the province of Aurora.
Development is targeted to begin in 2021 (in case the 9.7 hectare land envisioned for it will not be sold yet by my family).
It is envisioned to be primarily a bamboo plantation and production hub, hopefully to push for Aurora’s prominence as a key bamboo province in the Philippines. The residential community and resort accommodation is a medium- to long-term development.
Subject to a feasibility analysis, it will operate private villas and suites/rooms (in the main wing) while the permanent residential component will be sold to investors (and initially operated thru a 50-50 sharing scheme). While the private villas will follow distinct design and architectural inspirations from different cultures and principles (e.g., Japanese, Asian-Balinese, modern-contemporary, and Greek), Filipino/Filipiniana (bamboo) will be the unifying theme.
- Resilience (Bamboo Grove) – a 7-hectare bamboo plantation & park where visitors can commune with nature (and reflect on inspirational quotes/verses while listening to the sounds of the bamboo)
- The Bamboo Grove Villas – 5 private villas near the main wing (Hiraya)
- The Bamboo Grove Residences – 12 exclusive villas (for sale to investors).
- Spice & Stars Restaurant & Observatory – a Filipino-Asian fusion restaurant with an observatory deck. It will host viewing during special cosmic and astronomical events like lunar eclipses, meteor showers, etc. (as far as we know only 1 hotel does this in the Philippines); secondly, this offers an alternative as Aurora is synonymous to surfing only. This way Aurora can offer other things aside from surfing!
- Kalinangan Creative Hub – art center and workshop (e.g., for bamboo products, etc.); exhibit/show area for artists; events place for big groups.
- Kasaganaan – organic farm/garden farm, which will practice organic and sustainable farming methods to produce fruits and vegetables that will be enjoyed by the guests and sold in local and international markets. The production of stevia and oil-producing plants is currently under feasibility study.
- Serenity – at the center of the resort is a very beautiful and tranquil Japanese and zen garden (again, to differentiate El Rio from other resorts); scattered in it are gazebos where guests can contemplate, pray, meditate, write, etc.
As the site is not yet connected to the grid, the nature resort will require a renewable energy system for its electricity requirements and will be the 1st-ever resort (of this type) in the Philippines to rely on it 100%. This will also ensure sustainability, cutting down costs on electric bills. It shall also adapt green principles and energy-efficient design in all its buildings and facilities.
Where we are
We are now undertaking a feasibility study and will share our journey through this blog initially (transitioning to its own website) as we go along the path of building this world-class nature resort, bamboo grove, and observatory. (Business registration was targeted to be done in Quarter 1 of 2020 but COVID-19 has moved the timeline.)
Who we are
We are a husband and wife team, doing our best to make a difference. We are not first-time entrepreneurs and had been quite ‘scarred’ in the past by challenges but those experiences are our stepping stones that are making us wiser. We know there will still be challenges ahead but we have reached this point where we are more confident than ever of God’s continuing graces and light. If the lands will not be sold this year, then, it is God’s answer to our question, “Shall we do this?”!
Professionally, I am an environmental and social development specialist with a Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management and BA Development Studies degrees. Meanwhile, JR completed BS Management Accounting and Commercial Cooking NC II (TESDA-certified). I will manage design, environmental, and human resources requirements while JR will be in-charge of financial planning, operations, and culinary requirements.
Mom, Flor (turning 83), and her best friend, Linda (in her 70s) are retired teachers and among the core reasons for the establishment of this resort. We want to honor Mom for this land is her inheritance from her parents and all her life, dreamt of developing this. We (children of Flor) are all city-bred and, therefore, while I grew up feeling a deep affinity to the land, I also felt I was not (yet) ready for the huge task. However, this year, we felt it is a good time to pursue Mom’s dream as well as ensure that she—along with Mommy Linda—will enjoy their twilight years being closer to God and his gifts of creation.
Flor and Linda are envisioned to participate in the building of this dream by allowing them to assist in the landscaping and gardening requirements. After all, despite their ages, they are still very strong!
All supplies and materials will be sourced from local and sustainable sources (to the extent possible). For example, Inabel blankets and textile from the Ilocos region shall be used in all guest rooms.
El Rio is also for the people of Aurora, Mom’s birthplace and where she spent all her adult years as a public school teacher. After the nature resort is firmly established (or even before operations!), we intend to develop livelihood projects for the people, aside from hiring local talents for the operations of the nature resort and observatory. We envision creating world-class bamboo-based products and furniture with most if not all raw materials to be sourced on-site and locally and for which I will be the lead designer.
Bringing up future leaders: INTEGRITY Institute for Law and Science
At the core of this Project is nurturing future leaders who will embody not just positive values but also deep commitment to honor Gaia and the Spirit. As such, we intend to establish a foundation (eventually, learning institute) that will train children into adulthood through scholarships and innovative curriculum that integrates ecology (Gaia) and the Spirit (positive values). It is envisioned that these children will grow into leaders and
- lawyers who do not break and circumvent laws;
- doctors whose practice begins with the body’s natural capacity to heal–integrating science medicine, natural and naturopathic therapy, and spiritual and energy healing; and
- scientists whose innovative creations will help build a more sustainable future.
Support for Filipino artists
El Rio intends to build an art center called, Kalinangan (“Culture”) Creative Hub, and turn this into an art and cultural space for Filipino artists. Filipino painters, sculptors, and photographers shall be invited to run shows/exhibits here. An annual El Rio Wellness Retreat and Arts Festival is envisioned to gather local and international healers, artists, students, and professionals. This annual retreat and arts fest shall be El Rio’s contribution in the promotion of holistic healing, arts, culture, history, and nationalism.
Aurora – the north’s jewel and surfing paradise
We are confident about the viability of the nature resort and observatory as Aurora is fast becoming a popular tourist destination with it great surf and pristine environment. As mentioned earlier, the Diaman River bordering the site is still crystal-clean! It also offers other natural and historical sites including the popular Ditumabo Falls in San Luis and the Millenium Tree, which is incidentally, just about 10 minutes by car from the site! The site is about 30 minutes from Baler (where the great surfs are). It also offers tourists and travelers an alternative destination particularly that it is in the inner (quieter) part of Aurora—but still not so far from the more crowded beach front resorts. In El Rio, guests are guaranteed a quiet and restful vacation and pampering.
Partner with us!
We are now seeking potential partners, investors and earth-nurturers. (The business model is a perfect fit for innovative and passionate visionaries like us, too!) Young architecture and engineering graduates are also welcome to send us a pitch on the design work. Please drop us an email through the Contact page here (“Say Hello”).
May the spirit of JOYS, LOVE, PEACE, and ABUNDANCE always accompany you!