This is 32nd and it is my favorite street in Bonifacio Global City, a beautiful district in Taguig City that has quickly earned its reputation as the most progressive, richest and safest place to live in the Philippines. Some even call it a “posh” district because it is dotted with some of the most expensive bars and restaurants, hotels, condominiums and shopping malls in Asia. But if it’s indeed a posh place, then I wouldn’t have fitted in. But somehow I have. I did. I belong.
One more thing that comes to mind as I drive along BGC streets is that, there are two types of progress: good progress and bad progress.
In December 2006, just barely three days in Manila and fresh from college (in the province of Oriental Mindoro), I got lost on my way to my first day at work at ePLDT (now SPi) and stumbled on this very intersection. There were no stop lights back then, no congestion, very few buildings and lots of “free” parking areas and St. Luke’s was 5 years away in the future. I used to walk that empty piece of land that is now Ecotower and F1 Hotel to and from work every day. Now, a lot of progress have happened here. BGC’s skyline is lined up with modern skyscrapers including the new Ascott and Shangri-La hotels. Mini parks and recreation areas have sprouted perfectly in every corner giving this little metro a sense of green. There is a new museum dedicated to the human mind. Sadly enough, there is traffic build in almost every intersection now and travel time around this tiny city has gotten ridiculously longer from 20 minutes to an hour. Despite the downside, BGC has unarguably metamorphosed itself into a booming business, commercial, leisure and fashion hub. It makes me wonder if, along with BGC, I was able to metamorphose into something too.
One more thing that comes to mind as I drive along BGC streets is that, there are two types of progress: good progress and bad progress. Good progress for instance, are the thousands of jobs in different industries that BGC has obviously created for many citizens of the greater Manila area or that almost-Singapore-feels whenever you stroll around this classy district. Bad progress is when you now have to pay an extra P110 for overnight parking that used to be free, or when a once 20 minute drive now takes about an hour due to redundant stop lights in every nook.
Sometimes, moving forward means not moving at all. Eleven years, three companies. All in BGC and I’m not complaining. I’ve made a lot of friends here. I’ve learned most of the knowledge that I have from working with some of the best and most competitive professionals here. I’ve met “interesting” people here.
Just a few blocks away from St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City is Net Plaza Building where I spent seven years working for JP Morgan Chase & Co. Now I’m working for a different IT/Financial company which recently moved from McKinley Hill to a new office in BGC and yes, I’m still excited about this place. But it took me awhile to realize I have been stuck in the same city for the last eleven years of my life. Did I grow? Did I achieve what I came here for? Did it make sense to stay? Am I happy?
Sometimes, moving forward means not moving at all. Eleven years, three companies. All in BGC and I’m not complaining. I’ve made a lot of friends here. I’ve learned most of the knowledge that I have from working with some of the best and most competitive professionals here. I’ve met “interesting” people here. They know my first name at Starbucks Shell. I am a registered voter here. I know the name of every establishment and what they sell. I know there are at least twelve Seven Elevens and ten Starbucks in BGC. My favorite are the Starbucks at Crescent Park Residences which is located near Burgos Circle and of course, Starbucks Shell near St. Luke’s. Hell, I honestly think I know every corner of this place by heart.
As our country moves forward with the new Duterte administration, I hope that we focus on motivating our investors to build more amazing infrastructures and progressive developments such as BGC. I can’t help but imagine how rich Taguig City is. And I can’t help but wonder what if we make the entire Philippines as clean, secured, disciplined, well-maintained as BGC? Nobody litters or throws their trash on the pavement because the cleanliness will shame people for even thinking about it. What if we feel utterly ashamed to throw a single candy wrapper anywhere in the Philippines? We’ll have a greener, safer country. In BGC, nobody violates traffic rules because the law is strictly and rightfully implemented (and there are cameras and high technology speed detectors for the dishonest ones). We should do it on a national scale. Sometime at six o’clock every night, a tanker moves around BGC to water the plants. We should take care of the environment on a larger scale. Just imagine how great the outcome would be. But real change begins with ourselves, right?
So I’ve been working and living in Bonifacio Global City for eleven years. And I guess the reason I don’t want to work or live anywhere else is because BGC is possibly the only place in the Philippines where I am able to see and feel real fast-paced progress. It is a miniature of what our country should have been a decade ago. Its little charm and beauty represents the charm and beauty of the whole nation. Its hospitality to foreigners who have called this place their home reflects the hospitality of a true Filipino. Bonifacio Global City is everything the entire Philippines should be but for some reason, we couldn’t. Or maybe I am being too hard. Maybe we’re getting there but we need more time. Maybe we’re just slow workers. Maybe we need better implementations of the law. Maybe we need more honest public servants. Maybe more investors need to come together to create wonderful places like this. Maybe the Filipinos need to grow up and have some discipline. Because change starts with each and everyone of us.
On a lighter note, at least our country is moving forward, starting with small steps —like having a place called BGC. Next, we’re having more “posh” places such as the McKinley West (also in Taguig), the Lahug IT Park in Cebu and the new Aseana City in Pasay/Parañaque joining the ranks of posh places like Ayala in Makati and Eastwood in Quezon City. That’s why I love this city. I don’t know when I am ever leaving. Perhaps when the new president starts imposing a new dictatorship government. Perhaps when Mocha Uson becomes a Senator of the Republic. Perhaps when a real compelling event occurs. I don’t know. I’m kind of content. I have a choice but I just love it here.
King Ray, the Ninja
P.S. I’ll post more BGC pictures later.