Thursday, 10 January 2019

Philippines - Bonifacio Global City (BGC)

Wednesday 12 December - My daughter and I took a taxi to Bonifacio Global City or BGC as it's also know as, located about 9km from where we were staying.
Karina had told me about this upmarket financial and residential district in Metro Manila, where she had found lots of murals, and as we alighted from the taxi I could see it was quite different from what I'd seen of Manila.

BGC decorated signs in many corners of the suburb

Located next to Makati, another upmarket financial, BGC surpassed my expectations. 
I could have been in Sydney or New York, really, the area was that good!
The traffic wasn't chaotic, the pavements were spacious, there were cycling paths, lots of green areas, there were signs that pedestrians had right of way... that is unheard of in the Philippines. 
Nowhere else did cars stop on pedestrian crossings! Karina had told me the best way to cross a road on a pedestrian crossing is to start walking and put your hand out and the cars coming in your direction will reduce speed or stop 😏😏...hopefully. Scary, but it worked every time we tried it, mainly because they have to drive very slowly with so much traffic!

During the American occupation this area military land, but the area was sold in 1995 to developers and development started in 1998 and is still ongoing.
Lots of towers - commercial and residential, with many Filipino and multinational corporations having relocated their headquarters to this business district, and many international schools for the foreigners.

The High Street is the core of Bonifacio Global City, designed as a 3x3 grid of small office and residential buildings, shops, pedestrian friendly roads, public art, murals, landscaped areas, casual bars and restaurants, etc, that ensure the city centre is easy to navigate as well as being very usable.

High street sign
Quirky benches around BGC

Green areas and public art - heart, Specific Gravity boulder fountain,  stacked glass fountain and quirky pavement lights

Hearts galore at BGC

                                                                                                                           In the gardens in the middle of the High Road grid they had lots of Christmas decorations and the Pixar movie characters were very popular around BGC.

Christmas decorations on the High Road gardens
The Pixar characters all over BGC

We wandered around taking photos of murals - we found 18, but I'm sure there were plenty we didn't see, but the area was also a treasure trove of quirky signs which I can use for future "Signs" meme on Wednesdays.

We stopped for lunch at Salad Stop on the High street - where you can choose the ingredients and dressings to your taste. A very busy restaurant where we saw lots of Europeans who probably work for multinationals in the area.

At the far end of High Street is the Market! Market! (yes 2 x Market) 😉, one of the earliest developments in BGC.
It comprises a 5 storey shopping mall with market style themed zones with 520 shops - clothing, shoes, flowers, fruit and vegetables, food court, etc.
Next to it is the open market area where you can find stalls from the various provinces of the Philippines selling local products - honey, jams, pork crackling, biscuits, coconut products, straw bags...
I bought a small straw bag and Karina bought a big jar of honey.

Market, Market Shopping mall
Open market with stalls from the provinces
                                            On the Market square - Animals made with climbing plants

Down the road I was amazed to find car stands selling Maserattis, Porshes, BMW's, Lamborghinis... I didn't expect that in the Philippines for sure! 
With the congested traffic and maximum speed limit of 80km/h (49,7 miles) on the highways, I have no idea if anyone can get any joy out of riding one of these beauties, never mind the price tag!!

Karina spotted a craft beer bar The Bottle Shop and we went in to buy 4 boutique beers to take for Thomas back home at their place. Can you spot the funny named one...

And here are some of the great sculptures I saw in BGC:]

Kasaysayan Bawat Oras by Juan Sajid de Leon Imao, a 16 meter brass and cement sculpture, also used as a sundial with seven dolls on one side representing the 7,100 islands of the Philippines.

Pasasalamat -  on Rizal Drive, a brass representation of two fishermen's humble expression of gratitude to the Almighty for a bountiful harvest, by Ferdie Cacnio.

On the north end of BGC, the One Bonifacio Building is home to the Philippine Stock Exchange.
A had a good laugh when I saw a tiny girl taking a selfie in front of one of the three very cute Christmas domes in the green area by the Stock Exchange. She starts early with the selfie addiction...

Christmas Bears under the domes

A little girl taking selfies in front of the Christmas domes

Green area by the Stock Exchange

It was hot and humid and we were almost at the end of our day in BGC, so we stopped for a drink at Chotto Matte, a Japanese bar/restaurant.  Karina ordered a beer and I ordered a very refreshing watermelon cocktail.
When Karina asked for the bill the waiter said it was "Happy Hour" so we could get a second drink which we did.

Earlier I had spotted a bakery selling Portuguese custard tarts - Lord Stow's bakery and we bought 2 to try. A bit disappointed as it tasted very "eggy", and the pastry wasn't as flaky, nothing like the original ones.

Portuguese custard tarts, Watermelon cocktail

After our drink it was time to leave the beautiful area of Bonifacio Global City and catch a taxi to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) where we were picking up my husband Jose arriving on a direct flight from Sydney at 5,30pm.

Luckily we left with time to spare, as the 7,5km (4,66 miles) ride took us 1 hour, as it was peak time already!

Jose didn't have to wait for luggage as he was travelling with carry on only so he was out quickly. Then we joined dozens (it felt like thousands) of people on a long queue to catch a cab. We couldn't see the queue moving at all, a taxi would come once in a Karina decided to go and investigate other means of transport out of the airport.

The idea was to stop at a seafood restaurant en-route to our Airbnb. Karina came back and told us there were buses every 15 minutes going to the area we wanted to go, so we jumped on the bus as soon as it arrived after having paid the fee of 35 pesos each to the driver (about 0,90Aud). She kept the google maps app on so she could see the route and when to get out, but the guy sitting next to Karina and I (3 seats each side of the bus) had said to her that he was also getting out in that area.
When time came he told us to get out the bus with him, and the bus just stopped in the middle of the road (about 4 lanes) and then we did our hand out routine and crossed the road.
Then the young man pointed out an overpass bridge ahead and told us we had to climb the bridge and get out on the other side of the road and the area we wanted wasn't far.

We were in the middle of a night market with hundreds of little stalls selling food, water, vegetables, fruit, clothing...people all over talking, eating.
We weaved in an out of the crowd making sure we didn't lose each other, Jose with his bag and me clutching my handbag close to felt very scary indeed even though not many people looked at us.
The area was dirty and on the overpass bridge the stairs were full of discarded plastic bottles, food wrappers, boxes. A few poor people put out their hand as we walked past on the bridge.
On the other side a few more stalls and we could see a type of shelving units at the back and small kids slept on the shelves, no mattress, no pillow, just on the bare shelf.

After the ostentatious life of BGC here was the sad reality of the poorest people of the Philippines 😢 
Jose had the worst welcome into Manila, out of the airport and into a poor area.
But just a few streets down and everything was clean and normal again, but the restaurant we were looking for couldn't be found!

We hailed down a taxi driving by and asked him to take us to the next option which was actually in Manila Bay not far from our Airbnb - Sopahbowl.

Scallops and fried prawn

Outside we were greeted by two friendly transgender women, with beautiful make-up and clothes, and they showed us to our table, brought the menu and waited on the table.

Service was great, the food was delicious, a bit pricey for the Philippines, but the restaurant was full of locals.
After dinner we took a waiting taxi to our place and went to sleep as we had a busy day ahead.

BGC map (from net) - the blue area is the High street and the yellow area close to C5 the Market/shopping centre


  1. That is indeed a scary way to cross the road as you do there.
    Love the benches - and the hearts!
    Mike and Sulley, my fav :-)
    Oh, LOL a Lamborghini at 80 km/h only must be weird!
    That´s a lot of different beers. You mean the "Up Yours"?
    Isn´t it crazy how such young kids already work with this technology like it was nothing...
    My goodness, the bus stopped ... what?! Adventurous traveling for sure!
    That´s really two worlds you visited in one day...

    1. True Iris, two worlds in the same city.
      Yes, the Up Yours :)

  2. A very colorful place there.

  3. As you say, parts of the city would not be out of place in any major capital. But I fear most of the Philippines is not like that and you saw the other side after picking up José. It is sad that with all our technology and sophistication we are still unable to resolve issues of poverty and homelessness. In reality for those poor people sleeping on the street there is no way out of their misery.

    1. Thanks David, yes very sad that there continues to be such a high percentage of poor people in the world. Obviously a lot more should be done by Governments to eradicate that problem!

  4. You write so well, Sami. It's always interesting and I always learn a lot, and of course your photos rock. I love all the color but my favorites here, if I had to choose are the opening BCG letters at the top and then those bears under the domes and the Pixar characters. Such a fun place!

    1. Thank you Jeanie. Those letters and the bears in the domes were also my favourites.

  5. The public art and the topiary animals particularly draw my eye.

    1. The topiary animals needed a bit of an haircut but there were very clever. Thanks William.

  6. Colorful and so beautiful too. I loved your meal.

    Have a fabulous day, Sami. ♥

  7. The bench with hands--my favorite! :-)

  8. The two different areas are such a contrast and I guess the poorer area is the reality for most. I couldn't pick the beer with the funny name. You'll have to tell me which one!

    1. Indeed Andrew, I would say that even though there are signs of a lot of riches the percentage of poor people in the Philippines must be high.
      The beer is "Up Yours" :)

    2. So nicely put Sami. You could have just said Up Yours Andrew.

    3. :) :) Have a nice weekend Andrew.

  9. Conheço bem a zona e já fiquei hospedado no Peninsula precisamente nessa área.

    1. Uma zona bonita :) Por acaso vi um Hotel Peninsula numa esquina em Makati perto do antigo Stock Exchange.

  10. Dearest Sami,
    It all sounds a lot like maneuvering through Jakarta!
    What you still have to learn is that you live in a world of extreme contrasts between those super rich (even 10% in such over populated cities yields enormous numbers!) and patches where the poorest of the poor live. India was the worst example of that but also Indonesia and even in Mexico.
    Pieter and I stood once in Jakarta at an upscale mall and it really was upscale. So much that Pieter exclaimed at the parking lot that he'd never in his life had seen that many Mercedes, BMWs, Lexus etc. in one spot!
    Crossing the road in such a city takes some courage and above all, being steady on your feet!
    You at least managed to capture lots of unique photos.
    About an eggy taste for pastry, we could be sisters... hate that too! It ruins everything.
    Looking forward to the sequence of this!

    1. I can imagine India's poverty rate would be a lot higher too, at least from programs I watch on TV it appears so. Thanks Mariette.

    2. Keep in mind that India has 10 x higher population than the Philippines! ❤️

  11. This was superb. It is unbelievable how one part of a city can have such opulence and another such despair and hopelessness. Your photos of BGC were amazing, and I can see why you and your daughter were drawn to this area. The sculptures, the high rises, the cute benches, all made this a wonderful place to visit, I'm sure. Too bad your husband missed out on the good part of the city upon his arrival.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I was sad he missed the best of Manila, but he would only be in Manila for 1 day, and he likes history so we chose to take him to a Museum the day after his arrival.

  12. Gostei bastante de tudo o que vi mas achei bastante interessante a originalidade daquele primeiro banco o das mãos.
    Um abraço e bom fim-de-semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

    1. Obrigada Francisco. Sim o banco era muito original. Bom fim de semana.

  13. Everyday is a busy day for you when you're on holiday Sami 😀 After a shaky start to the holiday with the delays in flights you were off like a rocket! Must have been so nice exploring with Karina. The Phillipines looks like a country of many contrasts. Looking forward to hearing more, must try and catch up sometime in the next two weeks xox

    1. Always on the go :) Many contrasts indeed Grace.
      Will let you know once I get wedding photos so I can show you.

  14. A Sami traz sempre lindas fotos dos locais que visita. Adorei ver tudo más os corações deixaram-me encantada. Beijinho e bom fim-de-semana.

    1. Obrigada Sandra. Ha sempre algo de bonito em todos os paises. Os coracoes eram bonitos :)

  15. BGC! What an amazing place. I now have a new destination on my Bucket List!

    1. Thanks Maribeth, worthwhile a visit for sure!

  16. That really does sound a scary way to cross a road!!!

    I enjoyed your photographs and narrative, you make it very interesting. I have to say that The Philippines does sound and look a country of many contrasts.

    All the best Jan

    1. Certainly is Jan, from the very rich to the very poor, the upmarket suburbs to the shanty towns.

  17. So many adventures in a single day! It’s sad the gap between the different layers of society and how it can vary so much just within a few quilometres. On a more positive note is nice to see how cultures mix so much nowadays, and that you could even find our pastéis de nata (although not as good) so far away from home.

    1. The gap between the very poor and the very rich is huge and what marked me more was kids sleeping on the pavements in some of the areas.
      Those Pasteis de Nata were from a bakery originally from Macau, so as you say they are everywhere. Just not as good :)


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