From Halal Guys to Ippudo, why Bonifacio Global City is a ‘melting pot’ for FilAm millennials (Part 1)
By Angelito Cabigao
If you are a millennial visiting the Philippines, chances are you most likely will hear about visiting the Conde Nast top-rated beautiful white sand beaches like Boracay, Cebu, and El Nido. You probably won’t hear much about the city life except the traffic in Makati and Manila.
However, there is a new trendy place that is continuously growing in popularity in the midst of the city life. Though it is fairly new, Bonifacio Global City — known alternatively as BGC or The Fort — is a trending hip, fairly upscale district located in Metro Manila.
Historically known as Fort McKinley, where the Philippine division of the U.S. army was based, this area stays true to its roots by blending in American and Filipino cultures, a place that could serve as a comfort zone for those who are not too familiar with the Philippines yet, or a stepping stone for those who slowly want to see the full blown beautiful Philippine culture.
How can BGC do this?
After living in NJ/ NYC my whole life, I moved to the Philippines a little over a year ago and currently reside in BGC. I could say that BGC is the closest to home for me when it comes to culture. Also, It’s an easy way to initially showcase the Philippines to my friends from the USA before we get to explore the delicious food parks in Maginhawa, Quezon City or my personal favorite, the “dirty ice cream” at UP Diliman.
It brings up the question, why BGC is a “melting pot” of the U.S. and the Philippines.
Located downstairs from my condo is a Starbucks, located across the street is a McDonald’s, and many of my neighbors that I see in the condo elevator has that distinct American accent. Every Sunday you will see Ford Mustangs and other sports cars parked outside, there is a 7-Eleven nearby. If one has a craving for Pringles, there is a Buffalo Wild Wings a few blocks away where I’m able to watch Super Bowl and the McGregor UFC fights. Similar to New York City, everything is within walking or jogging distance, and residents choose to blend in with their own unique lifestyle.
During the weekend mornings you will see a bunch of people in their Nikes and gym wear walking/jogging around the city. Then you will the joggers at Krispy Kreme for a cup of coffee , to Salad Stop for a refreshing bowl of salad, to IHOP or Denny’s for a nice stack of pancakes.
Let’s take a typical visit to BGC. Let us assume I’m traveling from New York City and I just get off a Cathay Pacific flight. The first element you have to figure out after a long trip from NYC would be accommodations. Aside from Air BnB homes, the two popular places in BGC are the Shangri-La Hotel and the Ascott hotel.
Shangri-La has the best breakfast buffet I’ve had in the Philippines thus far. It has everything from made-before-your-eyes fruit smoothies to scrambled eggs and a whole lot of items in between. Shang also has something that I have not seen in any hotel, but is a gold mine for any basketball fanatic: an indoor full court basketball court. Kobe Bryant went here recently during his recent trip to the Philippines. Ascott has more of that home feeling, which even includes the amenities of a washer and dryer. Best of all, both have great Wi-Fi services for all the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter users out there.
Now that you are all settled in and your luggage stowed away, you probably want to grab a bite of real food since you probably still have that airplane food taste in your mouth. You are super hungry and tired from that traffic, food starts coming into your mind and you remember all the food places you miss from California to New York. BGC can satisfy these cravings quickly in less than 30 minutes.
Rather than having to cross from the East Coast to West Coast to enjoy food like the Halal Guys and Pink’s Hot Dogs, you can just cross the street and have them both within a 10-minute walk along High Street.
High Street is the most popular street in BGC. It is a 5-block stretch that is filled with green grass, shopping areas, and lots of food stores. Pink’s, the famous hot dog eatery in Hollywood, just opened up here in BGC. Two streets down is the famous New York food spot, Halal Guys, offering some chicken and rice. If you’re still hungry, you can walk a few more blocks and get some ramen and pork buns at the famous downtown NYC hip ramen place, Ippudo.
Angelito ‘Gino’Cabigao is Human Resources manager for TaskUs Philippines, an outsourcing tech company with offices in Project 3, Quezon City.