Ortigas, Makati, BGC: Where to Set Up Shop

CBDs, or Central Business Districts, are the economic hubs of any city, town or country. They are characterized by the following:

  • A central location that is easily accessible to and from various other parts of the area

  • Well-developed infrastructure, including road networks, pedestrian access, efficient traffic system; and well-developed utilities, such as telecommunications, water, and electricity

  • Major developments, encompassing both commercial and residential properties

The largest companies often take up office in CBDs because of the ease they provide in doing business. Banks and other financial institutions have branches in CBDs. Restaurants and shopping and entertainment centers also set up shop in CBDs, catering to the areas’ large working population.

In the Philippines, the three major CBDs are Makati, BGC (Bonifacio Global City), and Ortigas. Each of these showcases the robust economic growth the country has been experiencing in recent years, as their skylines continue to evolve with the addition of more and more high-rises. Here’s a closer look at each of them.

Makati CBD

Makati’s rise as the premier CBD in the Philippines started in the late 1950s with the construction of Ayala Avenue, dubbed the Philippines’ Wall Street.In 1963, Ayala Avenue became home to the Makati Stock Exchange, which built one of the first buildings in the area. Many other businesses that had their headquarters in the Chinese-Filipino district of Binondo moved to Makati, giving rise to a number of new buildings.

Today, despite the emergence of other CBDs, many of the country’s top businesses remain headquartered or have offices in Makati, including large national and international banks like Citibank, PBCom, and Bank of the Philippine Islands, and the world’s biggest multinational companies, like Zuellig, Shell, and Colgate-Palmolive. The area is also the site of large-scale BPO and KPO offices, including Convergys and People Support.

Makati is also the home of Ayala Center, a sprawling shopping district encompassing two malls: the mass favorite, Glorietta, and the upscale Greenbelt. The shopping experience here involves an eclectic mix of department stores and shops that range from popular local brands to international luxury labels.

Within the CBD’s vicinity are some of the country’s most exclusive gated subdivisions like Forbes Park and Dasmarinas Village. The district has also seen the rise of several high-rise condominiums and mixed-use properties, with more being constructed at a rapid pace.

Office space rental cost in Makati is the highest among all CBDs, but the vast array of old and new buildings in different locations around the district will leave you with plenty of good options.

Bonifacio Global City (BGC)

Bonifacio Global City (BGC) has become a major business hub in a span of only 16 years. Originally part of a military installation known as Fort Bonifacio, the 240-acre BGC was turned over to the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) in the 1990s. In 2003, the BCDA went into partnership with Ayala Land, Inc. and Evergreen Holdings, Inc. to develop the area into the modern residential and business hub it is today.

As the youngest CBD, BGC incorporates the latest eco-friendly and sustainable infrastructure designs, including an underwater collection system to prevent flooding, underground cables, and large, open spaces.

BGC’s skyline has been changing fast, with high-rises mushrooming all over the district. Many of these buildings are equipped with technologically advanced telecommunication structures, such as fiber-optic internet facilities. Some buildings and office spaces have been designated as PEZA Ecozones.

Many businesses have been relocating or are setting up shop in BGC, including Globe Telecom, Thomson Reuters, Proctor & Gamble, and Hewlett-Packard. Because of the advanced telecommunications infrastructure and PEZA Ecozones in the area, many BPO and KPO companies have also established their operations here.

BGC is the home of Serendra and Bonifacio High Street, the first open-air shopping malls in the country. Developments in the area include medium and high-rise condominium buildings, strategically located within the grid-like district.

Ortigas CBD

Ortigas CBD has the lowest office rental rate among the three major Metro Manila CBDs. It also has the advantage of being close to three cities – Quezon City, Mandaluyong, and Pasig – giving it access to a vast source of manpower. It is also in close proximity to the Makati CBD.

The 4,033-hectare estate that was to become Ortigas CBD was formerly owned by the Augustinian Order. It was acquired by developer Ortigas& Co. in the 1920s, and was gradually transformed into an industrial, commercial and residential district.

Ortigas Center’s official transformation into a CBD happened in the 1990s when the Asian Development Bank moved its headquarters here on what is now known as ADB Avenue. Local consumer goods giant San Miguel Corporation also set up their headquarters in the area. In 1992, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) set up its trading floors at the PSE Towers (aka Tektite Towers), located in the district.

This was followed by other major developments, such as SM Megamall – then the largest shopping mall in the country, the EDSA Shangri-la Hotel and Shopping Mall, and the Robinson’s Galleria Mall.

Today, the Ortigas CBD continues to evolve, and just like Makati and BGC, it has become home to major BPO and KPO operations. The newest addition to the district is Capitol Commons, a mixed-use development on the former site of the Rizal Provincial Capitol. In addition to new, hipster restaurants and shops, Capitol Commons is home to recently developed high-rise residential buildings, and a 19,000 sq.m. PEZA-accredited KPO hub.