We Built This City
A city built intentionally serves a greater purpose—to fulfill all the needs and desires of all who live within its fold. Filinvest City in the Metro South proudly shows how it can be done.
In recent years, Filinvest City has become the epicenter of economic activity in the Metro South, bringing to light a grand vision of mixed developments such as residential communities and condominiums, malls and commercial centers, hotel chains, and business hubs.
Today, Filinvest City has become a thriving central business district, or CBD, at par with other business capitals in the metro such as Makati, Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Ortigas, and the Manila Bay area. But this was not the case some two decades ago.
In 1995, it was simply an empty expanse of land—244 hectares of underutilized stock farm that the late Chairman Emeritus of Filinvest Development Corporation Andrew Gotianun Sr., realized as having great potential. He, together with his team of engineers, developers, and other experts, recognized the opportunity to build a city from the ground up, as they saw fit — one that was master-planned and which would become a true model of modern urban development.
𝐋𝐄𝐀𝐑𝐍𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐅𝐑𝐎𝐌 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐌𝐈𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐊𝐄𝐒
One of the greatest ills of Metro Manila, as many agree, is the lack of master-planning and smart urban design. Each CBD governs its own progress. And while they flourish, they also grow separately and disjointed from each other, making the flow of business and movement from city to city, CBD to CBD, very inconvenient and constricted.
While the growth and progress of these CBDs are to be lauded, traffic and transportation, among other things, have become unbearable. There’s also an imbalance of infrastructure and open spaces, with concrete buildings creeping into what should be open public space.
Filinvest City identified these issues from the very beginning and determined what it would take to correct them. Thus, when developing the Metro South, they designed Filinvest City based on a well- planned blueprint that brought order and structure, as well as balance, that could support the different lifestyles of the people and communities.
Don Ubaldo, Filinvest Alabang Inc.’s Senior Assistant Vice President for Townships, shares, “We have always believed that urban planning is not just about creating structures. More than determining relationships between structures and edifices, urban planning is about designing how people move around these structures, and ultimately, designing a way of life. That is what we consider when doing masterplans of communities.”
Filinvest City was then envisioned to include more open spaces, public parks, bike lanes, and green architecture. According to Ubaldo, it was to be a city that nurtured a live-work- play environment, and where everything is within easy reach.
When it came to planning the CBD, Filinvest City developers drew inspiration from the country’s sister cities in Southeast Asia. “We took note of the best practices in other cities like Singapore where greens are integrated into the CBD. In addition, we divided the city into zones and districts, with each area playing a vital role in the dynamism of the city,” Ubaldo explains.
In the Metro South CBD, these districts are the City Centre where Festival Alabang, the biggest lifestyle mall in the Metro South, is located; the Northgate District, which is also the IT hub of Filinvest City; the Spectrum District, the designated center of commerce with high-rise offices; South Station, and the transport hub, among others.
Each zone is distinct and serves a specific purpose, yet all are woven together into a seamless community, accessible via a complex transportation network comprised of electric jeepneys, shuttle services, and buses, among others. This allows great freedom and ease of movement for residents and corporate professionals, and makes working in the Southern CBD incredibly attractive. “As a general rule, all the zones/districts must be mixed- use, ensuring that each would be self-sustaining,” says Ubaldo. “There still has to be a dominant character or use.” In Northgate, for instance, the dominant locator there is Northgate Cyberzone, the premier IT hub. But residential buildings, hotels and serviced apartments, and other retail hubs are also found there.”
𝐓𝐇𝐑𝐈𝐕𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐒𝐔𝐂𝐂𝐄𝐄𝐃𝐈𝐍𝐆
Today, the CBD is thriving and has successfully positioned itself as a strong, competitive city. Filinvest is now home to thousands of residents, and its population fluctuates throughout the day due to employees at the BPO central.
Meeting the growing demand for more offices in the area, Filinvest City is fast-tracking the building of over 450,000 sqm of office space. To date, a total of 50 buildings— dedicated to BPOs and other organizations—have been completed or have commenced construction over the past five years. As a testament to the city’s progressive planning, Filinvest Alabang Inc. (FAI), a subsidiary of Filinvest Development Corporation, was awarded by BCI ASIA as one of the top 10 developers in the Philippines. In addition, it was conferred with the most prestigious honor by the Asia Pacific Property Awards Development as the “Best mixed-used development in the Philippines” in 2017.
While it has become a burgeoning business capital, Filinvest City has never sacrificed its open spaces and gardens to make way for more buildings. In fact, it has invested immensely in making the city greener and more inviting for its residents, fitting it with gardens, trails, and bike paths to encourage a life outside of the office and home. Even before pedestrian mobility became a trend in urban planning, Filinvest City was ahead of the game by 20 years.
Every Sunday, a portion of Filinvest City’s major roads— namely Commerce, Corporate, Parkway, and Filinvest Avenues —are closed off to traffic from 5am to 10am. so that the active community can walk, jog, bike, and simply enjoy the outdoors.
In addition, the city built the Filinvest Bike Trails, an approximately 9-km stretch dedicated to mountain biking enthusiasts, the Spectrum Midway Linear Park, and expansive Events Grounds. The CBD also has its own sewage treatment plant and water recycling facility.
Ubaldo proudly shares, “The construction of additional green parks is underway, as well as the construction of more bike lanes in the secondary roads.” As part of its green initiative, the CBD has rolled out three major developments in the pipeline, which include the Central Park along Promenade, the Greenbelt system along Spectrum Midway, and the Creekside Park development that stretches from Palms Pointe Village, all the way to the River Park in Festival Alabang, which brings nature closer to the people.
Thanks to these efforts, Filinvest City is now also proudly known as the “Garden City of Metro Manila.” “We are proud to say that ever since the conception of Filinvest City in the mid- ’90s, wide medians and pavements and tree-lined roads have always been there. Meaning, we have always encouraged this lifestyle of balance and that we’re truly committed to our vision,” he says. “Through this development we hope to inspire other cities and developments to consider a ‘greener’ point of view,” he continues. “We believe that it only takes dedication and will to make something successful.”
As a real estate developer, Filinvest is very much willing to partner with the government in building cities and transforming people’s lives. In fact, aside from Filinvest City, Filinvest is also in Cebu with its mixed-use township, City Di Mare, as well as Filinvest Mimosa+ in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga. “These townships would definitely bring in more jobs to their neighboring locales and would offer the same complete live work-play lifestyle with lush nature as the background,” adds Ubaldo.
Hoping to add another feather on its cap, Filinvest City is making its bid for the prestigious Gold Certification from LEED for Neighborhood Development, the US-based nonprofit organization that recognizes designs and developments that are environmentally responsible from construction to maintenance. Only two cities in the world have received this award – one in Italy and another in Japan – and soon (hopefully) Filinvest City will be the world’s third.
“The vision for Filinvest City has always been to transform people’s lives, not just those who live here, but also the transients who work here from the neighboring locales of CALABARZON and beyond. “We want to give these people an option to a full life, an environment conducive for employees to get better at their jobs, and a home where residents can enjoy the great outdoors sans the pollution. In our community, we nurture a live-work-play balance. This is what we believe makes a model CBD here in the Philippines, and hopefully others will realize and follow suit, too,” Ubaldo ends.
As a testament to the city’s progressive planning, Filinvest Alabang Inc. (FAI), a subsidiary of Filinvest Development Corporation, was awarded by BCI ASIA as one of the top 10 developers in the Philippines. In addition, it was conferred with the most prestigious honor by the Asia Pacific Property Awards Development as the “Best mixed-used development in the Philippines” in 2017.