Ortigas Center is a popular business and commercial hub in Metro Manila, situated specifically on the borders of Quezon City, Pasig, and Mandaluyong. The area where the center was built used to be an empty piece of land, until it was acquired and developed by Filipino businessmen. Today, Ortigas is a busy spot in Metro Manila around the clock with both daytime and nighttime employees from the corporations and Business Processing Outsourcing companies located there. Commercial strips and malls also make Ortigas Center a popular place for dining, entertainment, and shopping.
Although Ortigas Center has been known for its glitz and glamour, it has had its share of historic events as well. The People Power Revolution is an iconic event where the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos was toppled in 1986. The series of demonstrations took place on the stretch of EDSA, where people from all walks of life, including nuns and priests, stood side-by-side before soldiers aboard military tanks. This event is commemorated in EDSA Shrine, a church that stands proudly on the corner of Ortigas Center and EDSA. In 2001, the shrine became the center of another series of protests called EDSA II, which overthrew former President Joseph Estrada.
Tourists who wish to check out the latest trends can go to the hottest shopping malls in Ortigas Center. Just behind EDSA Shrine is Robinsons Galleria while a 10-minute walk away is SM Megamall and Shangri-La Plaza. The malls also have cinemas, entertainment centers, and serve as venues for conventions, fairs, bazaars, and musical events.
The faster way to get to Ortigas is to ride the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). People from the north can ride the train from North Avenue Station in Quezon City and alight at Ortigas Station. On the other hand, people coming from the south can take the train from Taft Avenue or Magallanes Station and go down at Ortigas Station.
Buses are another option to get to Ortigas. Southbound passengers can get off at the POEA office while the northbound passengers can alight at the Robinsons Galleria bus stop. From there, you can either walk or ride a jeep to your actual destination within Ortigas Complex. Keep in mind, however, that the jeep traveling inside the complex only follows a certain route and does not fully cover the entire Ortigas district.
The Philippine government has recently launched the Premium Point to Point (P2P) Bus System. This allows passengers to ride premium buses that have a fixed route running on a specific schedule, thereby letting passengers enjoy a shorter and more convenient travel time. The routes at present are limited: the ones available are Robinson’s Galleria to Park Square Mall (Makati) and SM North EDSA (Quezon City) to SM Megamall, all back and forth. P2P buses, however, don’t operate during weekends and holidays.
By Taxi or Ridesharing Services
The most convenient option is the taxi. The flag down rate is PHP 30.00 and for every succeeding 500 meters, a rate of PHP 3.50 is added to your fare. To help you estimate your cab fare, Manila is 11 kilometers away from Ortigas. Makati City, on the other hand, is about 7 kilometers away. Meanwhile, Quezon City is also about 11 to 12 kilometers away. When calculating your taxi fare, do not forget to take into consideration the traffic situation while heading to Ortigas.
Lastly, ride sharing services like Grab and Uber offer you with yet another efficient way to get to and around Ortigas.
What to See
Ortigas is a bustling business center that covers about 100 hectares of land in Pasig City. It is composed mainly of buildings, towers, and skyscrapers that house some of Metro Manila’s top companies, making it the second most important business center next to the Makati Central Business District. At present, the Asian Development Bank, San Miguel Corporation, Jollibee Foods Corporation, Banco De Oro (BDO), and various important Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies are headquartered in this economic district east of the City of Manila. Ortigas & Company, one of the country’s leading real estate developers, is also located in the area. They are also in charge of managing the whole Ortigas Center.
Aside from being an important business and financial center, Ortigas Center is also remembered for being the location of the EDSA Revolution which toppled the Marcos administration in 1986. This historic event is forever remembered in the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA, more commonly known as EDSA Shrine, proudly stands at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue. Built in 1989, the shrine is a symbol of peace and freedom. The iconic bronze image of Our Lady, sculpted by renowned Philippine artist Virginia Ty-Navarro, is not hard to miss. Underneath the towering statue is a Catholic church where regular masses are held every day.
If you want to try a different kind of activity, the Gandiva Archery Range & Cafe would certainly be a welcome idea, which offers facilities for archery. You don’t have to be a pro to enjoy what Gandiva has to offer. They have professional instructors and equipment available so you can summon your inner Legolas or Katniss Everdeen. If you get hungry from shooting all those arrows, Gandiva also offers an array of sumptuous meals that are healthy, flavorful, and greatly satisfying.
Where to Eat
Speaking of sumptuous meals, Ortigas is not one to be left out when planning your itinerary for epic culinary adventures. For starters, the Mega Fashion Hall at SM Megamall is teeming with different kinds of restaurants that will surely whet your appetite. For those who love Chinese food, the first ever Tim Ho Wan in the Philippines is located at the Ground Floor of Fashion Hall. Another well-loved Chinese restaurant is Din Tai Fung, famous for their to-die-for xiaolongbao. For Japanese food and ramen lovers, there’s Ippudo at the 3rd floor, while those who want to go for a good burger will enjoy a meal at 8 CUTS Burger Blends. For something Middle Eastern and to experience dining like a New Yorker, a branch of the famous The Halal Guys is located at the Mega Food Hall.
Ye Dang and Matgalne along Meralco Avenue are two of the top-of-mind options if you feel like treating yourself to authentic Korean dishes. Sobremesa in Sapphire Bloc serves mouthwatering fusion dishes of South American and Filipino flavors. Also located in Sapphire Bloc is The Stockpile, a must-visit for those who crave Western-inspired dishes. For amazing breakfast meals to start your day, B&P in Cyberscape Alpha serves all-day breakfast.
Fast Food Chains
Of course, fast food chains like Jollibee, McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s, Chowking, and Greenwich are available all over Ortigas Center.
While Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf are dime a dozen in the area, there are a number of coffee shops available in the area that offer the same cozy and relaxing ambiance but serve their own special coffee concoctions. Subspace Coffee House in Emerald Tower feature unique creations like Purple Potato Latte and Peanut Butter Latte. Aside from coffee, Cafe Flafe at the Grand Emerald Tower also serves refreshing bingsus, a popular type of Korean iced dessert. Where’s Marcel?, on the other hand, offers the perfect cup of flat white that will transport you to Melbourne, the cafe’s country of origin, with its distinct taste.
Bars and Clubs
If you love drinking and having a great time, then you’ll surely love Tipsy Pig Gastropub in Capitol Commons. The hearty dishes and the chic ambiance at Moonshine P.U.B located at the Sapphire Bloc, on the other hand, will entice you to stay longer and order their delightful signature cocktails. Metrowalk is also home to various bars and lounges, so whether you’re in the mood to dance the night away, listen to awesome live music from up-and-coming bands, or sing your heart out at the karaoke, you’ll surely find your choice of entertainment in this popular hub.
Where to Shop
Whether you are looking for bargains or reasonable deals on designer brands, you would be pleased to know that Ortigas Center has several malls with numerous stores and boutiques. The center is known for being one of the hotspots for shopping in Metro Manila.
Robinsons Galleria is one of the city’s pioneers in offering modern shopping experience to every Filipino. This five-floor mall is a mixed-use property that is home to over 400 shops and restaurants. It stands right behind the historic EDSA Shrine.
SM Megamall opened its doors to the public in 1991. It is comprised of two main buildings that occupy about 10 hectares of land in the Ortigas district. Over the years, SM Megamall expanded its facilities to accommodate more shops. Eventually, the mall attained the status of becoming the second largest shopping mall in the country and the seventh largest in the world. To date, the mall has over 500 shops available with almost 300 dining establishments available in all of its five floors. Notable fashion brands H&M and Uniqlo have three-level flagship stores in the mall. There is also an IMAX theater, an Olympic-size skating rink, and a 14-lane bowling center.
A couple of steps away from SM Megamall, the upscale Shangri-La Plaza houses over 300 shops and restaurants that cater to the more affluent market. Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, and Saint Laurent are some of the luxury brands that you’ll come across at Shang, as it is colloquially called. The Shang Cineplex also features state-of-the-art cinemas for that one-of-a-kind viewing experience. Another ideal venue for a wonderful upscale shopping experience is The Podium, which is just within walking distance from both Megamall and Shang.
On the other hand, the St. Francis Square Mall offers visitors with pocket-friendly options for both shopping and dining. The mall is directly across Megamall and houses over 700 stalls commonly called as “tiangge.” Gadgets, pieces of jewelry, shoes, bags, ready-to-wear items, and food—name it and you’ll definitely find it at St. Francis Square Mall.
Rounding up the list of malls in the bustling Ortigas district is Estancia Mall at Capitol Commons which opened in December 2014. If you are into home renovation or improvement, Ortigas is also home to the CW Home Depot where everything you need like construction materials and equipment are all available.
ATMs and Money Changers
Banks and ATMs won’t be hard to find in Ortigas since almost every corner and building has one. For money changers, try visiting the foreign exchange counters inside the malls.
Fare: PHP 20.00++
An MRT ride from either the northern or southern end of the metro to Ortigas is fixed at PHP 20.00. The bus fare, on the other hand, averages at PHP 20.00, with rates depending on your point of origin. The premium buses, however, are fixed at PHP 30.00 for the Robinsons Galleria to Park Square Makati route and at PHP 40.00 for the SM North EDSA to SM Megamall route. The jeep inside the Ortigas Complex is PHP 7.00 minimum, while taxis have a PHP 30.00 flag down rate.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 5,000.00
Fast food chains offer value meals for as low as PHP 50.00. But if you want to go all out, there are restaurants that serve dishes for as much as PHP 5,000.00 in the area. On average, a food budget of PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00 would be ideal for a decent and satisfying meal in most restaurants.
Shopping: PHP 300.00++
A tiangge at St. Francis Square Mall offers great bargains so you can most certainly snag a good quality shirt or two for only PHP 300.00. Shopping for luxury goods at Shang will probably set you back at much as PHP 30,000.00, depending on the item and brand. However, most malls in the area offer sales and discounts. Just keep track of these promos so you can make the most out of your shopping budget when you visit Ortigas.
Accommodations: PHP 2,000.00 to PHP 8,000.00
Ortigas has hostels and other budget-friendly hotels within its vicinity. The area is also home to some of the country’s upscale hotels. Given Ortigas’ ideal location, the offer of comfort and convenience from these lodging facilities will surely be worth the price.
Activities: PHP 200.00++
Most of the attractions found in the Ortigas areas are malls. If you want to watch a movie, the going rate for a ticket is around PHP 200.00 per person. Unlimited ice skating in SM Megamall, on the other hand, costs PHP 420.00. Meanwhile, a game of bowling is around PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00. If you’re interested to try archery at Gandiva, the rate starts at PHP 680.00 on weekdays and PHP 980.00 on weekends.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
Most restaurants already incorporate service charges into your bill so tipping isn’t actually necessary. If you do want to tip, PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 would be okay. Most goods and services are already presumably VAT-inclusive. However, some establishments don’t incorporate the VAT in their prices so be mindful of such situations. If you are driving your own car, the flat rate for parking in the Ortigas area is somewhere between PHP 45.00 and PHP 50.00.