One Day in Manila for P800: Ortigas Center
Metro Manila's other business district has more to offer than its gleaming skyscrapers and colossal shopping malls.
(SPOT.ph) It is just too easy to fall into the trap of heading to a glitzy mall whenever you find yourself in Ortigas. But with its relatively modest size and walkable streets, Ortigas Center is actually a very pleasant area to explore. You may just bump into some hidden gems along the way.
The area was once part of the Augustinian Order's Hacienda de Mandaloyon which was acquired in the early 20th Century by the company that would eventually become "Ortigas & Company, Limited Partnership."
In recent decades, Ortigas Center has seen the rise of gleaming skyscrapers and sprawling shopping centers, the ousting of presidents in nearby EDSA Shrine, as well as becoming the preferred address of significant companies such as the Asian Development Bank, San Miguel Corporation, and Jollibee, to name a few.
Surrounded by EDSA, Ortigas Avenue, Meralco Avenue, and Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas Center can be accessed via the MRT, a bus that says "Ortigas Ilalim" or any UV Express Van going towards Robinsons Galleria or SM Megamall.
Go on an architour of Ortigas Center.
To an architecture student as well as any design enthusiast, the Ortigas Center is a rich resource for building design. Over the years, buildings have risen in this part of the metro and effectively represented a particular decade's design sensibilities. Walk around and spend a good amount of time admiring the generous mix of old and new. Take note of the Philippine Stock Exchange Center (also known as the Tektite Towers) among other architectural gems, including the San Miguel Corporation Headquarters, designed by National Artist for Architecture Francisco Mañosa.
Photo (right) from the Pizza Freaks website
Get personal with your pizza.
Artisanal gourmet pizza all for yourself. How's that to munch on? For only P125, Pizza Freaks offers gourmet 6" personal pizzas and a glass of iced tea. You get to choose from all the flavors on the menu, from the Classic Margherita to their very own Boracay Beach Pizza. So if you can’t decide on just one, go ahead and have two. Tucked in a corner along Pearl Drive, the place is compact so be prepared to share the space with students from across the road who are talking about their next school project.
Pizza Freaks is at G/F 8101 Pearl Plaza, Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City (631-7259). Open from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Photo from the Ortigas Foundation Library Facebook page
Let your nerd flag fly.
If you're into history and literature, then you must drop by the Ortigas Foundation Library. It features rare titles, documents, and prints on Philippine History and an extensive compilation of resource materials on Jose Rizal. The library also holds monthly lectures, film showings, and small exhibits. The use of the library is free but plugging your own laptop would cost you P30. While there, browse through the bookstore and come home with a box of vintage postcards featuring scenes from Old Manila: the Tranvia along Escolta, the Plaza Carlos III in Binondo, and Calle Bustillos in Manila's Sampaloc District.
The Ortigas Foundation Library is at 2/F Ortigas Building, Ortigas corner Meralco Avenues, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Take a breather.
In the middle of the busy Ortigas business district is a small patch of green that serves as a space for quick meet-ups or brief rest stops. With a chill coffee place right beside it, Ortigas Park is a nice reprieve from daily life in the urban jungle. It gets dressed up nicely during the holidays, too.
Ortigas Park is at F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Pasig.
Situated in a loft, Sekitori is a good recreation of a Japanese restaurant. The place is compact, done in muted colors, and features an area where you can sit on the floor. The food is quite good, too, and served in generous proportions. Just chew on this: Japanese men working in the city go there after office hours. (We spotted some walking in just a minute after we placed our order.)
Budget: About P300
Sekitori Japanese Restaurant is at Unit 2B Hanston Square, San Miguel Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Open from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. (Monday to Saturday).
Spend an afternoon with the masters.
Immerse yourself in the works of 19th Century Filipino masters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo at the Lopez Museum. The museum (the oldest privately owned and publicly accessible museum and library in the country), houses a significant number of their works as well as paintings by National Artists Fernando Amorsolo, Botong Francisco, Arturo Luz, Ang Kiukok, and BenCab. Included in the museum’s collection are the personal effects of National Hero Jose Rizal as well as 17th and 18th Century maps.
Budget: P100 for adults, P80 for college and high school students, P60 for elementary students
The Lopez Museum and Library is at G/F Benpres Building, Exchange Road corner Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City (635-9545). Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday to Saturday, except on public holidays).