Outdoor fun at The Sandbox in Porac, Pampanga

Joy Angelica Subido, Joy Angelica Subido, Karla Alindahao (The Philippine Star) - April 12, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - While Porac, Pampanga was once largely associated with extensive lahar flow brought about by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, it has become in recent years an attractive destination for fitness buffs, thrill seekers, off-road riders and all kinds of adventure travelers. Pitting strength, skills and innate intelligence against difficult natural terrain, these intrepid individuals trek, drive and climb to be able to explore and appreciate the untamed yet unique beauty of the area.

For those who are just starting to build up confidence in their ability to overcome the challenges of outdoor adventure, Ayala Land has built an outdoor adventure facility in Porac, Pampanga where they can train. The facility is called SandBox and is just off the Porac exit of the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).  The outdoor adventure park is located in Alviera, the 1,125-hectare township in Porac Pampanga that Ayala Land, Inc. is developing in partnership with Leonio Land.  

SandBox is equipped with an Adventure Tower (15 meters of wall-climbing fun); the Avatar One Roller Coaster Zipline (a zipline where one can zip 180 meters down rollercoaster style); an excellently designed push/pull off-road bike track; and trails where one can practice negotiating rough terrain while driving ATVs and UTVs (all terrain vehicles and utility task vehicles.)

The Aerial Walk is an obstacle course built off the ground using sturdy ropes; and riding a giant swing which is touted the Philippines’ tallest swing at 10 meters high allows an unparalleled view of the surrounding countryside. Equipment at the SandBox was installed under the expert supervision of Kerry Asuncion, founder and manager of Extreme Adventures, Inc. (EAI). In the Philippines, Kerry and EAI are the only affiliated members of the Illinois, USA- based Professional Ropes Course Association (PRCA) and the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT).

Nevertheless, a friendly reminder:  while all the equipment and facilities at the SandBox have been carefully designed to ensure safety, it’s always good for newbies to active outdoor adventure sports to exercise a higher sense self-restraint and good judgment. Indeed, the SandBox offers a safer more controlled environment than the “real” outdoors, but something untoward can still happen. Be prudent, pay attention and follow all safety measures. Be cautious. Know your capabilities and do not attempt to operate an ATV off-road if this is the first time you are driving one. Driving a car on a smooth, well-paved road is very different from driving on a trail.

“There are very few outdoor fun facilities in the country of (SandBox’s) quality that are comparatively near city centers,” says John Estacio, Alviera general manager. He tells us of additional facilities in the pipeline. “We are 1.5 hours away from Quezon City, 45 minutes from Subic, 25 minutes from Angeles City and five minutes from Clark. SandBox and Alviera are easily accessible from the NLEX (Northern Luzon Expressway) and SCTEX.” He tells us that the experience and well-thought-out facilities at SandBox will give people a taste of what to expect with the development of the Alviera township. “We envision Alviera to be the regional growth center of Central Luzon. It will be complete with a commercial district, business and industrial park, university zones, retail centers, a country club, recreational areas and residential neighborhoods.”

Most heartening in our conversation with John Estacio was hearing that even the Aetas, native dwellers in the area, will not be displaced. “Part of our philosophy of development is that we want everyone to partake of the benefits of development.” By building Alviera in what is currently marginally productive land, Ayala Land Inc. will bring more opportunities to the native people of that place.

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The SandBox Adventure Kick Off starts at 9 a.m. today, April 12. The activity will feature Bamboo and his music. SandBox is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For booking guidelines and for information about Alviera, log on to www.alviera.ph or facebook.com/Alviera PH.

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