Makati, Ortigas Center, and Bonifacio Global City may be Metro Manila’s most popular business districts, but Filinvest City, an exciting business district in Alabang, Muntinlupa, most certainly offers advantages that are uniquely its own.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Binondo’s Street is arguably Manila’s commercial and business hub. This historic east-west street that runs almost parallel to Pasig River is home to some of the Philippines’ most iconic structures, including Capitol Theater designed by Juan Nakpil, and the First United Building (formerly known as the Perez- Building), which was the tallest building in Manila when it was completed in 1928.
But in the 1960s, Manila’s lack of master-planning has started to show in the gradually decaying buildings of , which perhaps prompted many businesses to move elsewhere for a more prestigious address. And in the early part of that decade, Makati’s Ayala Avenue (which eventually became the core of the Makati Central Business District) started to take shape. Many structures surpassing the then height restrictions in the Philippines started to dot the area, including the iconic Insular Life Building at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas, PLDT Building, and Vicente Madrigal Building, among many, many others.
Around this same time the master-planning of Ortigas Center started, although this fledgling commercial area will not become a full-blown business district until the 1980s and 1990s. The Asian Development Bank chose this area as the location of its headquarters, in addition to San Miguel Corporation, Banco de Oro, and MERALCO.
Then came the 1990s, during which time Metro Manila’s southern section had no established business district to speak of, save for pockets of commercial areas along Alabang–Zapote Road. The government under President Fidel V. Ramos opened up the former Alabang Farm Stock property for joint venture with the private sector, and the family’s Filinvest Development Corporation bagged the deal, which marked the birth of Filinvest Corporate City, later renamed Filinvest City to reflect its transition into a full-fledged mixed-use and self-contained estate. Filinvest City has since become Metro Manila’s premier CBD in the south that features commercial, leisure, and residential components.
While the popularity of Makati CBD, Ortigas Center, and Bonifacio Global City (BGC) cannot be denied, Filinvest City has a distinct character that sets its apart from its peers in the north. Its leafy streets and open greeneries give it a laidback ambiance that’s lacking in other CBDs. But don’t let this fool you – Filinvest City means business.
The area was chosen as the site of Insular Life’s new corporate address, the gleaming two-tower Insular Life Corporate Centre; smacked right on the middle of Filinvest City is Festival Alabang, which at 400,000 square meters is presently the fifth largest shopping mall in the Philippines; and across Alabang–Zapote Road is Northgate , an 18.7-hectare PEZA-registered, campus-type IT park that is designed and built around the requirements of BPO and technology-based firms.
The “live-work-play-thrive” concept of Filinvest City will not be complete without the “live” and “thrive” parts; hence, the presence of a number of condo developments in the area, from the mid-range Studio City and Vivant Flats to the luxurious Botanika Nature Residences. Schools and hospitals are represented as well, including Far Eastern University Alabang and Asian Hospital and Medical Center.
Given Filinvest City’s fully integrated nature and its strategic location as Metro Manila’s gateway from the south, it is therefore an ideal location for many traditional occupiers and BPO and KPO locators. The area is a boomtown at the confluence of cities and municipalities with huge populations (Muntinlupa, Las Pinas, Laguna, and Cavite), while transport infrastructure has greatly developed over the last few years. Aside from the South Luzon Expressway and Metro Manila Skyway, which give Filinvest City an easy access to both the south and the north, newly completed and ongoing projects will further improve connectivity, including the Muntinlupa–Cavite Expressway and the Cavite–Laguna Expressway.
Locators will also be spoiled for choice when looking for an office space to lease in Filinvest City. The aforementioned Northgate alone is home to a number of commercial properties well-suited for BPO and KPO firms, including Southkey Hub 1 and Southkey Hub 2, two 10-storey buildings that boast a combined leasable area of more than 22,000 square meters. For traditional corporate occupiers, the newly completed One Trium Tower may be a better option. This 20-storey building is located along Filinvest Drive in the quieter western portion of Filinvest City. Boasting 14 office levels with a typical floor plate of 2,105 square meters, this LEED Gold-pre-certified property features five podium parking levels and a well-curated selection of retail and support services on the ground floor. Finally, located in the Spectrum District, Filinvest City’s economic core, is CTP ASEAN Tower, a 13-storey Grade A building right next to Insular Life Corporate Centre and Filinvest Alabang and is ideal for both BPO and traditional occupiers.
Filinvest City’s tenants and residents, too, have a lot of good things to say about this business district. According to Melanie Alcaraz, cofounder of Launchpad Coworking: “Filinvest City is a great location for business because you have everything within walking distance: malls, access to the expressway, restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and hotels. You don’t need to go far because it’s all here. The way [Filinvest City] is laid out is so refreshing and pedestrian-friendly – lots of trees, wide sidewalks, and really nice walking trails. It is a great place to walk around if you need to clear your head.”
One Trium Tower
Southkey Hub 1
Southkey Hub 2
CTP ASEAN Tower
Moreover, Filinvest City offers lower office lease rates compared to the other business districts. Colliers Q4 2021 data shows that headline rates of office spaces in the area range between PHP600 and PHP880 per square meter, way below Makati CBD’s PHP1,400–1,800 per square meter for premium-grade buildings and BGC’s PHP1,000–1,600 per square meter.
As corporate locators, BPO firms, and other businesses embrace the post-pandemic normal, one of their strategies to thrive and be successful over the next few years is to carefully reevaluate their office footprint. Choosing established locations like Makati CBD, Ortigas Center, and BGC may have its benefits, but Filinvest City most certainly offers advantages that are uniquely its own. Opportunities definitely abound in the south, as they say, and more so in Filinvest City.