I’ve landed. Manila, the capital of the world’s second largest archipelago, the Philippines, is to be my base for the foreseeable future.
After being here for only a pinch over two weeks, I have found myself shocked by how much the city’s reality deviates from its perceived rough image abroad. Yes, the retinue of armed security guards ever patrolling banks in the morning sunlight do continue to cast an ominous aura on the character of the country. Its capital region is actually one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, and is gummed up with one of the world’s largest slums. Americanization here has turned slum dwellers into characters from a Top 10 hip hop song: basketball jerseys and tattoos of psalms are common sights.
But beyond the grit, the developments of Makati and Fort Bonifacio are overwhelming, the latter of which I now call home.
In a recent blog posting on the reclaimed army base’s metamorphosis into the prime destination of Manila, I detail my new home. Below is a excerpt from that pieces published on Investvine (with more photos).
The 17 cities that compose Metro Manila, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world, each have their own distinct character and history. But it is the youngest district in this vast patchwork of cities that says the most about the developmental progress of Manila today, an overlooked and largely misunderstood story in this low-income nation with a per capita GDP of just $2,200.
Want to see the Manila that perfumes of Spanish colonialism? Head to Intramuros north of Manila Bay. Want a bit of hustle and bustle to match your step? Then its to Makati for you, home of the Philippine Stock Exchange and the iconic Greenbelt mall. But if it is conspicuous show of Manila’s nouveau riche you are looking for, then the gridded streets of Fort Bonifacio, or simply “The Fort” as it is commonly known, is the direction you are heading.
After four years of serious construction that has become an ongoing beat to the district, the former Philippine military base of Fort Andres Bonifacio has transformed into Bonifacio Global City, a clutch of commercial and residential properties stitched together with wide sidewalks reminiscent of a North American urban centre.
The Fort, located in Taguig City just a 10-minute drive from Makati, is now home to multinational corporations set in high-tech offices, including JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank, and has become a popular location for expats and chic Filipino socialites alike. It is a place locals go to be seen, and Indian and Japanese expats walk worriless of crime with their family.