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The City hosts about 34 PEZA-registered Information and Communications Technology (ICT) parks in Quezon City, prompting those in the industry to call it the ICT capital of the country. Many business process outsourcing (BPO) giants like IBM, eTelecare, Convergys, SITEL and Sykes Asia have either transferred or located their base of operations in Quezon City, having been attracted by the competitive real estate values, with rental and leasing rates that are 30-40% lower than other cities. They are also attracted by the expansive land areas available for development, especially in Cubao, Eastwood, EDSA, Quezon Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue.
Another plus factor is manpower sourcing, considering that Quezon City is home to over 40,000 ICT professionals. More graduates continue to swell the ranks every year due to the presence of many tertiary-level schools in the City, including learning institutes that specialize in call center training. The City government, to proactively meet the demand for manpower, established the Quezon City Call Center Competency Course that provides free training to the so-called “near-hires” who were initially rejected employment in call centers, in order to make them qualified for the job.
During a 2009 CyberCity Forum, major BPO players reported the ease with which they started their business in Quezon City, citing the efficiency of the city government’s BPO-ICT Task Force. The latter was created to provide support to existing and potential locators, including the City’s endorsement in their PEZA registration application. Sykes Asia confirmed that its Quezon City sites were outperforming all their other locations in the Philippines, while IBM Philippines said that 80% of its employees are in its Quezon City sites.
Quezon City is fast becoming a leader in wireless connectivity, with at least 44 destinations offering wireless fidelity (wifi) service technology to anyone who wants to use a laptop within their environs. Among the most expansive wifi hotspots are found in the 35-hectare Araneta Center in Cubao and the 19-hectare Eastwood Cyberpark. Even the community that hosts Quezon City’s dumpsite, Payatas, is already a wifi zone.
Most coffee shops and restaurants offer free wifi connection as a come-on to customers. The Internet cafes that boomed in the ‘90s continue to be a popular destination, with 600 of them dotting many parts of the City, including residential neighborhoods. There are about 450 computer retailers and distributors, and more than 3,000 micro enterprises engaging in ICT-related businesses.
Additionally, Quezon City offers reliable communication infrastructure services powered by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone company, Bayan Telecommunications Corporation, Digitel and several other small players. The number of cellular sites has increased over the years, with Bayantel and Digitel among the major service providers. Broadband services are now available through Bayantel, Primeworld and Radiomarine.
Telegraph and telex services are provided by PT&T while postal services are extended primarily by the Central Post Office. The city maintains ten post offices and nine private postal stations distributed citywide. Other services include mail and parcel delivery, money order, domestic and international express mails and PO Box leasing.
Eastwood City: A city within a city
Eastwood City, is a 17-hectare state-of-the-art, masterplanned, residential, business, commercial and entertainment city development of Megaworld Corporation in Bagumbayan, Quezon City. Its main feature is an urban economic zone for information technology (IT)-driven companies. It is the first cyberpark accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. Locators include customer contact centers, electronic publishers, e-commerce systems managers, other systems managers and integrators, multimedia service providers, internet access and data transport service providers, and web developers. Companies like IBM, Citibank, eTelecare, Trend Micro, Canon, TOEI Animation and others are located at Eastwood. Those who live and work in this community enjoy advanced high-bandwidth telecommunications system and fiber optic backbone.
This place features 12 luxury condominium residences. It is the first pet-friendly shopping and recreational community in the country.
It is also the country’s first nationally accredited Tourism Entertainment Complex. Among Eastwood City’s finest attractions are the grand selection of restaurants offering sumptuous cuisines, temporary art galleries, al fresco dining, and the mall’s very own Walk of Fame, ingrained with the names of the great icons of Philippine entertainment, arts and culture. The night scene is very much alive at the central plaza, where concerts, fashion shows and dance parties are regularly held.
Sophisticated shoppers love the new Eastwood Mall, a welcome addition to the huge Cybermall which is practically a stone’s throw away. The new mall has two distinct sections, the main mall, which has upscale fashion boutiques, a sports zone section with giant LCD screens, and a row of al fresco restaurants; and the central park, an open space with environmental elements like a botanical garden and a lagoon. Families and the barkada can now enjoy the ultimate luxury movie viewing experience in select cinemas with fully reclining twin seats, and refillable popcorn and drinks to be served by butlers to their own seats. The bazaars also provide the perfect haven for those in the hunt for the trendiest fashion finds, fascinating handicrafts and other novelties.
In the mood for a certain kind of cuisine? Notable restaurants in the complex include the Italian restaurants Fazoli, Pasto, and Benissimo, the Mexican restaurant Agave Mexican Cantina, the Chinese restaurant Shanghai Bistro, the Filipino restaurants Via Mare and Mama Rosa, the Indian restaurant Prince of Jaipur, the Japanese restaurants Takayama Kyo and Teriyaki Boy. Those who live for the nightlife can barhop among prominent nightclubs in the Eastwood City Walk including Club Dredd, Ebisu Grill, Fuzion Smoothie Café, Ipanema, OJ's Grill (Mystic), and The Basement. Coffee and tea lovers can go to Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Delifrance, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Figaro, among others.
Craving for serenity and relaxation? Even an hour of body pampering can immediately rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. Health aficionados will be thrilled with the wide array of spas and salons offering luxurious body spas, soothing massages and great makeovers, that make Eastwood City practically a beauty and wellness district in its own right. Sports buffs will love to unwind in Paeng’s Eastwood Bowl and Billiards Room, the most modern in the country using the latest AMF bowling equipment. Adding to the festive atmosphere of the facility are the glow-in-the-dark bowling balls and pins, and the glow-in-the-dark tracking lanes.
People can also bring their favorite pets and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the cobbled walks, as Eastwood City is first pet-friendly mall in the country duly recognized by the Philippine Canine Club Inc.
These modern-day conveniences have lured more folks not only to visit but to actually set up house at Eastwood City, including those working in the corporate offices in the nearby Cyberpark. Among these are the very modern three-tower Eastwood Lafayette which has a neo-classical design and the majestic Grand Eastwood Palazzo with frescoes and balconies reminiscent of Europe. Four more condominiums are slated to rise here in the near future: Le Grande Towers and One Eastwood Avenue.
Araneta Center: QC’s pioneer business district
The Araneta Center in Cubao is the city’s first well-built commercial and entertainment hub. It is also a crux of the city’s mass transit systems.
It had its humble beginnings from the vision of businessman J. Amado Araneta, who wanted to provide his countrymen an extraordinary recreational venue just like those he saw in his travels abroad. In 1952, he purchased a 35-hectare land from the Radio Company of America (RCA), where the latter’s transmitters were located. The property was considered a dead spot, and many people thought that Araneta’s idea to put up a commercial complex in the middle of nowhere was crazy. The first structures to be built were the Araneta house, also known as “Bahay na Puti,” an office building, and the famous Araneta Coliseum.
Now, the Araneta Center is a 35-hectare property recently revitalized to include a new commercial and residential community complementing the area’s centerpiece, the Big Dome or the coliseum. Within this area are large shopping malls and supermarkets, theaters, restaurants, drug stores, specialty showrooms, art galleries and offices.
The Araneta Center Cyber Park is an 8-hectare business area which consists of modern four to six storey office buildings. Among its locators are: Accenture, a major player in the business process outsourcing industry with over 100,000 employees worldwide; APAC Customer Services Inc., with a 2,000-seat call center operation; and Advanced Contact Solutions, which located here its sixth contact center facility in the country.
Another information technology park in this area is Gateway Tower, a 32-level mixed-use building with five levels of commercial center, 22 levels of office areas, two levels penthouse and a helipad at the roof deck. The total gross floor area is approximately 75,056 sqm.
The iconic landmark of this area is the Araneta Coliseum, which sits on almost four hectares of land. When it opened in 1960, it was considered the biggest covered coliseum in the world, and to date, remains one of the biggest in the region. The fight of Filipino ring icon Gabriel “Flash” Elorde was the coliseum’s inaugural event. The coliseum is an architectural masterpiece because it does not have columns that obstruct the view of the audience. Over the years, the Araneta Coliseum has continued to provide the Filipino people with the best entertainment at reasonable prices. One of the most memorable events that took place in the coliseum was the “Thrilla in Manila” which was the World Heavyweight Championship Fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
Ali Mall is the first enclosed shopping mall in the Philippines. It was constructed after the historic “Thrilla in Manila” boxing bout in 1975. Legend has it that Muhammad Ali himself suggested the construction of a mall because the country at that time was lacking shopping malls. He was guest of honor at the mall’s opening. With 62,000 square meters of land, Ali Mall remains a popular hangout because of the assorted retail stores and dining establishments there. In 2009, an expansion to Ali Mall was opened.
The Gateway Mall boasts of its Cineplex, which has ten cinemas that have La-Z Boy seats for the Globe Platinum cinema and comfortable seats for the other cinemas. It recently garnered the merit award in the 2006 International Design and Development Awards sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Other structures in the Araneta Center are the Aurora Tower, the headquarters of the Araneta Center Inc. It was also in Cubao that Jollibee, the giant Filipino fastfood chain, had its beginnings as an ice cream parlor in 1975.
The Araneta Center Master Plan has unrolled further improvements and expansion. The development concept mixes state-of-the-art retail, entertainment, commercial, hotel and residential uses in a complementary, transit oriented development pattern within lush “garden city” environment that will attract a wide range of public and private activities.
Integrated into the whole development will be an information technology backbone that will provide state-of-the-art communications, networks, utilities, and other technology support facilities to support existing and nurture the development of new, information technology oriented companies and individuals.
Included in these plans is Novotel Manila Araneta Center, a deluxe business hotel connected to Gateway Mall. Conveniently located in the center of the business and entertainment districts of Quezon City, the hotel will showcase 417 rooms, a 1,000 capacity ballroom, a gym, a bar lounge. Plus all-day dining, spa, swimming pools, and 3 levels of basement parking. The hotel will also offer multiple function rooms with flexible spaces, easily transformed to meet every business needs, with an emphasis on state-of-the-art technology, natural light and contemporary design.
Located right in the periphery of Araneta Center is the Manhattan Garden City, a transit-oriented development envisioned to have 20 condominium towers of different styles and design grouped to complement each other. It is now on its third phase, Manhattan Heights, which will add four new towers to the existing six.
UP-Ayala Land TechnoHub: Campus-based technology park
The UP–Ayala Land TechnoHub is the country’s first full-scale, campus-based science and technology park, which was developed jointly by the country’s premier university, University of the Philippines, and property developer Ayala Land. It occupies 20 hectares of the 37.5-hectare UP North Science and Technology Park.
It offers a campus-style development for information technology companies, inspired by the vision of Stanford’s Silicon Valley, which seeks to nurture a dynamic learning laboratory for academic and industry collaborative projects.
The Hub features ten buildings surrounding a park of landscaped spaces and a man-made lagoon. Each building is designed for 24-hour business operations, with floor plates of approximately 2,600 square meters, 100% back-up generators, centralized chilled water system, two elevators, and multiple telecom providers. They are also designed to be environmentally sustainable with features such as a district cooling system, a water recycling system, a storm-water management system.
The place has a Tech Portal, which houses start-up companies, incubators, an information desk, conference and meeting rooms, and exhibit areas. The entire development was listed as an approved IT Park by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority in February 2009. This status makes export-oriented companies located therein eligible for temporary tax holiday, permanent reduced rate of corporate income tax, and other incentives.
IBM opened an Innovation Center at the park, its second in Southeast Asia after the one located in Malaysia. Convergys also inaugurated its contact center at TechnoHub in April 2009. British banking giant HSBC is a pioneer locator. Other locators are Canadian insurance firm Manulife and Pointwest Technologies, a software developing house with clients in the Fortune 500 companies. The technopark now has the capacity to provide employment to some 35,000 people.
Aside from the IT-related companies, the TechnoHub complex has various establishments including coffee shops, restaurants, a drug store, telecom company, hair salon and bookstore, even Timezone. Notable restaurants here are Gerry’s Grill, Yellow Cab, FlapJacks, The Old Spaghetti House, Le Ching Tea House, Mister Kebab, KFC, Razon’s and Kanin Club. A fish pond and a jogging path, along with a sports center, are also interesting amenities in the area.
The development of UP North S&T Park is under a 25-year lease contract with the University of the Philippines for use of its land, with the agreement that all facilities constructed will be turned over to the university upon expiry of the lease. The second phase of the project involves developing the area into a biotechnology park, while the third phase entails building an education and communication park.
The proliferation of technoparks in Quezon City like the UP-Ayala TechnoHub, Araneta Cyberpark and Eastwood Cyberpark, are encouraged by the City government’s policies that promote the strengthening of the country’s proficiency in the field of science and technology, and encouraging foreign investments that will boost the City’s productivity.
Complementary information technology facilities in the area are the UP South Technopark along C.P. Garcia and Katipunan Avenues; followed by collaborations on Katipunan Avenue south of the UP Diliman campus. In July 2009, Ayala and UP Diliman opened a third collaboration, the DOST-PEZA Open Technology Business Incubator, at Katipunan Avenue; the new incubator targets companies focused on cloud computing and open-source software development.
Quezon City Central Business District: Emerging Center of Commercial Activity
An emerging metro center is the Quezon City Central Business District located in the city’s North and East Triangles and Veterans Memorial area. This is a 252-hectare masterplanned development which a World Bank study has confirmed to be “the center of gravity of all commercial activities in the coming years.”
Designed to be a vibrant and environment-friendly CBD that actively contributes to national and metropolitan development and, at the same time, serves as a model urban environment, the CBD will position itself as the priority location within Quezon City for businesses in the city’s main clusters, health and wellness and information technology, with strong support facilities (financial services, institutional and educational activities, commercial and retail, culture and entertainment, hotel and residential facilities). It will eventually attract also the main national or regional offices of large financial and commercial companies. Based on the masterplan, businesses, residences and institutions will be organized around five, thematic districts:
The CBD will have the prerequisites of a world-class CBD: walkable, vibrant night and day, quiet neighborhoods with easy access to retail and urban services, building designs that preserve human scale, public areas that have good aesthetic design, lively commercial centers and transport-oriented developments.
As the country’s first transit-oriented mixed-use CBD, it offers expansive EDSA frontages and links to at least three metro rail transport systems. This minimizes travel to work, avoids congestion experienced in other CBDs, creates greater opportunities for social contact, urban vitality and safer places, achieves better energy efficiency and efficient use of spaces and buildings, and increases efficiency of urban facilities.
The CBD will have unique modern and futuristic urban architecture, with an underlying Filipino theme. Existing vantage points to the Quezon Memorial Circle and the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife will be preserved. New ones will be established.
Approximately 64% of the total land area will be allocated to mixed-use residential, commercial, institutional and transit-oriented development; 22% will be allocated to roads, and 14% to parks and open spaces.