Whenever one talks about Metro Manila shopping malls, few, if any, talk about the shopping malls of real estate magnate and lowkey (but still very influential) political figure Manny Villar, both the legacy brand Starmall and the more competitive brand Vista Malls.
And who can blame them as their malls are usually not much to write home about, you know the typical mall experience. It also does not help that these malls do not have upscale tenants that shoppers would flock to. Of course, that is not in itself bad as a shopping mall can attract visitors even without upscale tenants but the mall has to have that visual appeal and atmosphere that gets the foot traffic.
Fortunately, there is one Villar-owned mall that has managed to stand out in a lowkey way.: the Evia Lifestyle Center.
Evia is actually a shortened name for Pontevia, the name given to the central portion of Villar company Vista Land’s residential and commercial development in the Las Piñas-Muntinlupa-Bacoor corridor called Vista Alabang. (though technically, the development itself is not close to Alabang or Ayala Alabang) In turn, Vista Alabang is part of an even bigger township development being called Villar City, which extends far south into Dasmariñas in Cavite. But as it is at this time of writing, development in Vista Alabang and the whole Villar City is still sparse. And Villar himself has said he is not in a hurry to develop the entire area.
The current state of things would make one who may be unfamiliar with the area think that Evia Lifestyle as a place located in the middle of nowhere. But as this Urban Roamer found, commute to the area is not actually difficult. In fact from the South Station across Festival Mall, it is just one ride away courtesy of the yellow-colored multicabs stationed there.
Now back to the mall, Evia Lifestyle Center opened in 2012, serving as the commercial hub of Vista Alabang. It is also strategically located at the intersection of two major thoroughfares in south Metro Manila and Cavite: the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway (MCX) and Daang Hari.
The mall consists of two buildings with four levels each, joined together by a passageway and a wide atrium with a clear-glass roof to provide natural light to the area. Compared to the flagship malls such as SM Mall of Asia and Ayala’s Glorietta, Evia Lifestyle Center is more lowkey in its offerings but that does not make it a slouch. In fact, it has a few things that make it stand out from the other malls in the metropolis. For one, it allocates a generous space for alfresco dining.
Another standout feature in the mall is the integrated cafe and bookstore area, a joint project of Fully Booked and the Villar-owned cafe chain Coffee Project. Here, one can grab a book from any of the bookshelves in the area have a seat and read while drinking some coffee. And we’re not talking about just one or two bookshelves but multiple ones scattered across.
But probably the most notable feature of the mall is its IMAX theater. And it’s not just any IMAX theater but IMAX with Laser, the first and so far the only IMAX with Laser theater in the country, beating out SM’s IMAX theaters. But what exactly is IMAX with Laser? Basically, this format uses laser rather than the regular xenon bulb of IMAX, thus providing more brightness on the screen.
Suffice to say, Evia Lifestyle Center is one of those modern hidden gems in the metropolis that one should check out if within the Vista Alabang area. Here’s hoping we see more Vista Malls like it which provides a unique shopping experience.
Acknowledgements as well to Vista Malls and Wikipedia