Makati (aka Ayala Center)
This is the de-facto first choice for office space since the 80′s and even up to now it is still the place to be for businesses. It is the busiest of all the CBD’s mentioned here and rents are still the highest. Hi-rise buildings are a mix of commercial, and residential and all the streets are reached by public transportation. The main thoroughfare is Ayala Avenue, followed by Buendia Avenue. In Ayala Avenue, most tenants are the contry’s biggest financial, insurance, law and auditing firms. This is also the closest to the airport. The best hotels in the city are also around the Makati Avenue / Pasay Road area. Among them are Makati Shangri-La, and the Manila Peninsula. The smaller inner streets on both sides of Ayala are called Salcedo Village and Legaspi Village, rents are comparatively lower and more older and small buildings are located — but not for long though. You would also notice that there is a low-rise residential area around the Northeastern side of Makati nearer EDSA, these are called the Bel-Air and Urdaneta Village which have been historically the area for the well-to-do crowd. The places northwest to west of Makati are a bit on the seedy side and therefore less desirable. The offices located on this side (Buendia and westwards) are not in great shape. It is also floody during rainy season on the Eastern streets near the SLEX (South Luzon Expressway) — as long as you are before Chino Roces Road you are fine in my honest opinion. The nicest area in my opinion is near the “Greenbelt” area, close to the park, and close to the mall yet quieter but still close to the MRT and public transportation. There are also several serviced apartments around that area that you can rent at a significantly lower price than a hotel yet provides you with decent, clean accommodations, with kitchen and maid service and proximity to business and entertainment.
Pasig/Mandaluyong (aka Ortigas Center)
The main attraction of this CBD is its central location in Metro Manila. It is also much less polluted and streets are not as busy compared to the Makati CBD. The rents are also slightly lower. However, the land area is currently very small but there is some expansion going towards the Mandaluyong (Shaw) area called the Greenfields district. The most developed area is on the Pasig side where the most desirable streets are: F. Ortigas Jr., Julia Vargas, Meralco Ave., and San Miguel Ave. Then there is also the inner “gem streets”. The buildings here are a bit older (90′s) but rents are much attractive than the main streets. Most newer constructions are also along the main streets. Many BPO businesses are housed on this office buildings. Many workers here work at night so food services within the buildings are usually open late. There is also a night food market every Friday called the Banchetto located at F. Ortigas Jr. Rd (formerly called Emerald Ave.). The area also has its fair share of good hotels such as the EDSA Shangri-La, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Discovery Suits and serviced apartments such as the Malayan Plaza and the Joy Nostalg. The Philippine SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) office is just across EDSA, about 5 minutes drive. The main shopping malls are Megamall and Shangri-La Mall. Further east of Meralco Avenue, there are very few office spaces available as this is occupied by Valle Verde, an upperclass subdivision. Workers would usually have to walk or take jeepney or FX (hired aircon vans) from EDSA/MRT or elsewhere to get to the offices.
Taguig (aka BGC or Bonifacio Global City)
BGC is proud to claim its fame as a successfully masterplanned business district and one would easily see the difference: wide-treelined streets, all-new high rise buildings, the place attracts the young and hip, definitely. The rents are no longer cheap though, it rivals the prices of Makati and is expected to still go up and even go beyond Makati rates. There are still many open spaces and there is really much less noise and pollution compared to the first two. However, there is an issue with public transportation for the workers. The buses do not come here that often and the place is far from the commuter trains. The rents for the condominiums within BGS are also way too high for the average worker. A lot of foreign companies have opened a branch or subsidiary office in this area.
Other notable places:
To get to Alabang, one needs to take the South Luzon Express Way and exit on the 3rd or 4th exit. It is not a joke commuting to these parts as traffic can be burdensome especially during the rainy season. The Alabang area is considered part of the suburbs as you would notice a huge difference in the environment, more lower rise buildings, and less crowded. However, you might have trouble finding employees willing to commute that far. However, much more affordable and generally nicer accommodations can be found in that area since one has a choice of living in a house with a garden and a more laid back lifestyle. The Festival Mall and Ayala Town Center are the main commercial areas of Alabang. As of now there are few buildings too choose from as not many new buildings are being built yet which makes rents there still not as affordable as they should be.
Libis (aka Eastwood)
In the Northeast of Pasig right at the end of C5, which is Southeast of Quezon City, you would find Libis area, which is also called Bagumbayan, QC. The commercial area located there is called Eastwood, which is the branding chosen by its developer (Megaworld). First impression is that it is a new and very lively place. The shops and restaurants are built right next to the office buildings, and the place is not that big, therefore very walkable. Mostly BPO’s (voice and ICT), including big names in IT such as IBM’s Global Services, and Trend Micro are located there. Many condominium units are also around the area, and units are rented by employers for their staff or rented by workers themselves. And also, if you are into nightclubbing, then this is the place to be. However, location-wise, it is not easy to commute there as it is on the far eastern edge, and few roads lead there.