We live in an area called Rockwell, in Makati City. It comprises about 11 apartments blocks, a shopping mall – Powerplant Mall – and a couple of office blocks (Nestle has its Philippines headquarters here). The 4, or so, roads running through the complex are quiet, and there are traffic wardens to help you cross them!
Rockwell is roughly rectangular in shape. On one side is the ‘Bel Air Village’, a gated community which seems to have lots of pretty big, luxurious looking houses and on the opposite side the Pasig river. On another side there are low-rise apartment blocks as well as shops, restaurants & hotels and on it’s opposite side an area of local housing.
I am sure, as we get to explore more of the city, we will notice the stark contrasts between rich and poor even more. This is just one of them – the upscale Rockwell centre bordered immediately with high density local housing, of mixed construction. Some of the houses appear to be built as you’d expect – concrete, bricks and roofs, whilst others seem to be made entirely of corrugated iron.
The nearby areas
Metro Manila is a metropolis made up of 16 cities. Makati city, where we live, is to the South East of ‘Downtown Manila’, described in the Lonely Planet as ‘the real heart of the city’.
Makati City is the business hub of Manila and is also host to the big hotels (Mandarin Oriental, Intercontinental, Dusit Thani, Sofitel etc.), numerous shopping malls and plenty of places to eat and drink. The main streets which run through Makati – Ayala and Makati Avenues – were previously runways to the city’s airport before the Ayala family started building here post WWII. Walking up them now it’s difficult to believe that they could have been runways – both are flanked by tall buildings which house the businesses and many apartments in the area.
South East of Makati is Taguig City (pronounced Tag ig), where Fort Bonifacio can be found. Fort Bonifacio was built on ex-military land and comprises a large number of office blocks, residential and shopping areas. It is home to a number of global businesses, with more moving in the next few years, as well as the British Embassy. The infrastructure in this area of the city is probably the most modern, and by the looks of things this will be where a lot of the big businesses end up (according to Wikipedia anyway).
Makati and Fort Bonifacio are the 2 places we have explored so far. In both areas you feel as though you are in a bit of a bubble. To compare them to other Asian cities we’ve visited, they are most like Hong Kong in the sense that, as a Westerner, you don’t get any hassle from the locals at all, they are both incredibly multi-cultural and they also feel clean, organised and modern.
There is a fair amount of open space in both the Fort and in Makati. The Fort has a ‘High Street’ which is effectively a long pedestrianised area with greenery in the middle and upscale shops either side. In Makati there is an area called ‘Greenbelt’ which has more mall space, loads of open air cafes and restaurants and a few cinemas. When you’re there, you could be anywhere in the world.