The restaurant building binge of the Philippines’ wealthiest man, Manny Villar, inside the self-styled Swiss luxury development Crosswinds Tagaytay has made its residents aghast, as they see the picturesque enclave slowly turning into a commercial nightmare.
Over the past 12 months, tourists have been coming in droves to the once serene and pine-scented village to visit the new restaurants opened by Villar, chairman of Crosswinds’ developer VistaLand/Brittany.
Homeowners such as Peter and Arlyn Agawin Baron, were naturally incensed. The Barons said the commercialization of the Swiss-inspired development has led to traffic jams due to increased vehicular volume, nighttime noise, and the presence of rodents and stray dogs due to waste.
The privacy and security of residents have also been compromised since the public gained access to private residential areas, the Barons added.
Homeowners represented by abogado Jerry Marasigan wrote a letter dated October 31 to Villar and his son, Paolo, demanding an explanation on why they embarked on a commercialization spree at the expense of residents who were promised a secluded haven in a 100-hectare property at one of the highest points in Tagaytay. They urged Villar to suspend the commercial developments inside Crosswinds pending a public dialogue with affected residents.
Villar, however, responded by opening another restaurant, taking more residential land and opening the village gates to more visitors.
Prior to Villar’s restaurant opening spree, Crosswinds only had two commercial tenants: Cafe Vio La and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL), which were both located at the entrance at the corner of Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa road. Residents didn’t mind the presence of the two establishments since these were far from their homes.
Everything changed in December 2020 when Villar took over the space for the CBTL store and converted it into Ruined Cafe, the 50th branch of his franchise, Coffee Project.
A few months later, Villar put up the Napa Restaurant on the lot at a residential block where a house once stood, homeowners claimed.
They said Villar further encroached on residential common areas by moving the “for residents’ only” gate further down the road to put up more parking for Ruined Project and Napa.
In December 2021, Villar opened the Windmills Lausanne Café at the other end of the Crosswinds property. A Japanese restaurant, called Yawa, is also set to open soon. Bilyonaryo.com tried to get the side of Villar’s camp for this story a week ago. It has made no response as of this posting.
BARBARIANS AT THE GATE
Homeowners are alarmed over Villar’s supposed plan to open the entire main road of Crosswinds Tagaytay to increase public access to his new restaurants at the other end of the subdivision.
They see the looming influx of non-residents as a security risk to homeowners, who have been barred from building fences or walls to maintain Crosswinds “Swiss aesthetic standards.” Residents fear a rise in home invasion cases with greater public access to their community.
Marasigan said the unrestricted opening of the main village road would benefit the commercial establishments at the expense of residents’ safety and security. He pointed out that the Villar’s establishments were not subject to the rules and restrictions on noise pollution (loud music from cafes and construction at night) and proper disposal of garbage (which residents claimed have led to arise in pests and the presence of stray dogs).
Traffic has also worsened with residents spending half an hour just to get in or out of Crosswinds.
“Daig pa ngayon ang picnic grove kasi dito walang entrance fee tapos kahit midnight may mga tao pa rin na pumupunta. Hindi naman bumibili sa restos and cafes nila, nagpapa picture lang, may bitbit pa na baon which tinatapon lang all around,” a homeowner said.
The Barons accused Villar of “seizing” what was supposed to be common land in the village.
So how could Villar tweak the village’s plans without the approval of homeowners?
The Barons claimed Villar controls all seats on the board of the homeowners association. The absence of a resident on the board, which is contrary to Republic Act 9904 or the “Magna Carta for Homeowners, has allegedly allowed the country’s wealthiest man to make the board a “rubber stamp” for his plans. Homeowner Ben Nocon complained that Vista Land/Brittany embarked on a commercialization spree even though it has yet to fulfill its basic commitments to homeowners such as stable water, electricity and internet access.
“Why is the developer prioritizing new commercial establishments over residents’ safety, privacy and basic needs?” he asked.
“Residents have repeatedly followed up but no substantial progress for years. To add insult to injury, the promise of a serene, secured and exclusive enclave has been thrown out the window due to the recent rapid and uncontrolled establishment of several coffee shops, restaurants and public attractions that were not in the original plans and are encroaching on residential areas,” said Nocon.