The Garden, Ciudad de Victoria

The spot of the Ciudad de Victoria or the Philippine Arena Complex used to be a vast ricefield. It was an ambitious project that started in 2011 and ended in 2014. It was meant to be a tribute to Iglesia ni Cristo’s 100th-year celebration. The aerial view of the Ciudad de Victoria looks like the number “100.”

The Ciudad de Victoria is owned by the New Era University. The dream plan was to create a community within the complex like the Philippine Arena, Philippine Sports Stadium, recreational park, church, hospital, and the transfer of the New Era University from Quezon City to Bulacan. It would probably take time before the last two items that I mentioned will happen.

The most popular structure in Ciudad de Victoria is the Philippine Arena which is the world’s largest indoor arena to date. It has a maximum seating capacity of 55,000. Big religious gatherings of the INC like Lingap and Pamamahayag are held in the arena and stadium. New Era University first held its graduation ceremony in Philippine Arena in May 2015. Ciudad de Victoria is open not just for the INC brothers and sisters but also for the general public. International stars like the Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, BTOB, Red Velvet, Katy Perry, Guns N’ Rose, and U2 have performed in the arena. The most memorable local entertainment held was Eat Bulaga’s “Sa Tamang Panahon.” Coincidentally, one of the stars, Maine Mendoza, is a Bulakenya from Santa Maria. Sports enthusiasts enjoyed the PBA games and the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games.

The plants and trees surrounding the arena and stadium are meticulous works of art already. If you have seen an INC church, you will probably notice that aside from their uniform church designs, there would always be a garden to decorate the vicinity. In other words, it is not surprising if Ciudad de Victoria put up a big garden for people to see and visit.

In 2018, The Garden’s entrance fee was PhP450 for adults and PhP250 for children. Foods, drinks, and professional cameras are prohibited. Photoshoots like pre-nuptial and debut are allowed for a fee. The fees are reasonable because the plants and facilities are marvelous and require a certain high degree of maintenance. There are cold-weather plants that need air-conditioning in order to survive. There is a smaller version of the planetarium for visitors who are into basic astronomy. Most of the animals found on the mini-zoo are birds, reptiles, chimpanzees, and fish. Kids would love the Maze Garden, Go Kart, playground, and rollercoaster. When you get tired and hungry from walking, you can go to either Embrace Cafe and Restaurant or Candy Land Cafe to dine.

Update as of August 6, 2021
It has been 17 months since the Luzon lockdown and today, August 6, 2021, is the start of another hard lockdown for NCR plus Bubble. Without the Philippine Arena toll exit, the place would look isolated. It’s good to have photos and videos to remind us about the old days. Someday, we have stories to tell our future children and grandchildren about how we won this battle.