05/19/13

SM in the BGC: the Aura Premier mall

I suppose it was inevitable, But in a way, it is also a sign as to how far has development come to the Fort Bonifacio commercial-business district, the Bonifacio Global City in particular, whether it was for the good or otherwise. Nothing can emphasize this point more than seeing one day that retail giant SM has set foot in this bustling district, unlikely as it may be in the first place.

It was not really a smooth sailing for this mall, a result of a complicated history regarding the land it was built on. Originally, the land was a donation of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and its private partner, Ayala, to the Taguig City government for “institutional purposes,” to be the precise, for the purpose of building a civic center, with a park and events venue, among others. What Taguig did however was to let SM come in the picture, and leased to them the property (or portion of it, conflicting information I’m getting here) to build the civic center. While the civic center concept is still in place and the area is still technically to be a civic center, the entry of SM to develop this place complicated matters which has resulted into an ongoing court case.

Apparently, SM has a different idea in mind as to what a civic center is, though there is some basis for it as apparently, there seem to be different interpretations as to what composes a civic center. SM’s civic center component included something they are very well-known for, a shopping mall. Not just any shopping mall though, but an upscale shopping mall (or as SM would brand it, a premier mall) catering to the A-B class demographics who mostly compose the residents in the BGC.

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The result is the SM Aura Premier, which just opened last May 16 with bang and Sarah Jessica Parker on the side. At first read, the choice of name is radically different from the traditional names SM gives to its malls. But apparently, its name was from an amalgamation of the chemical symbols of gold (Au) and Radium (Ra) which to SM signifies luxury and elegance. (in addition, it is said that there’s some numerology involved as well as the atomic numbers of gold-79 and radium-88 are considered as lucky numbers)

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since I wasn’t able to see Sarah Jessica Parker in person, I just had to do with this

For one, the Urban Roamer has to laud SM’s efforts to make this particular SM mall different from the other SM malls that are in existence. From the presence of high-end stores which make their first foray in the Philippine market, to the playful and modern interior design employed especially in the supermarket, foodcourt, and cinemas. Not to mention the granite floor tiles which I believe is the first in an SM mall, I believe.

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For someone who has seen SM North EDSA’s SkyGarden, the SM Aura’s SkyPark is a pleasant surprise with such neat and simple landscaping, albeit some parts are yet to be completed.

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not sure if this is the planned performance hall or the chapel

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planned hotel/office building af the Bonifacio Civic Center

On the other hand, the interior walkways are too narrow for a place like SM which is sure to generate so much foot traffic, especially during sale events. Even the SkyPark suffers from limited space for walkways. Another issue here is that there is no decent walkway that will link SM Aura to nearby areas like Serendra and Market Market right across it. Now I understand the current dispute may be a factor, but it will greatly help in easing the traffic there which is already bad as it is so I don’t have to even get started on that.

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Considering the other components of this “civic center” (at least it is still officially considered as such) have yet to be completed like the hotel/office building, the performance hall, and domed Catholic chapel named after Pedro Calungsod, not to mention premiere tenants still to open, it will be interesting to see how the SM Aura at the Bonifacio Civic Center would be like, considering how much deviation may have been involved from the property’s original intent.

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Acknowledgements as well to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Wikipedia, and SM Prime

© the Urban Roamer

11/9/12

Gone Korean at the Korean Cultural Center

Cultural institutions are normally associated with a country’s traditional arts and culture and the documentations and studies about them. Or at least a place where can learn foreign languages.

While it is important for one to learn and understand the arts and culture of these countries as a way to promote harmony, it is also understandable that there would be those who will find places like these as too “stiff” and “high-brow” for them to take and catering more to scholars than to regular folks who wish to know more about other cultures.

Then there is the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines, which is considered to be one of the more “hip” cultural institutions out here.

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10/27/12

The Mercatos of the Metro

There are a number of food/weekend markets out there in the metro these days. Some may say this growing presence is bordering on oversaturation, while others do not seem to mind that. Especially if they have something different to offer for a discriminating palate.

Then there are a few that stand out thanks to longevity and loyal patronage among a growing fanbase. Out of that few, there are those that have stood up well enough to establish by itself a growing network of food markets in the metropolis. Such is the success story of Mercato Centrale. Continue reading

03/24/12

the “mind-blowing” Mind Museum

After that somewhat-disappointing experience at the MOWELFUND Museum, I conditioned myself to lower my expectations a bit for this next roaming adventure, yet another museum in this case which has been dubbed “The Mind Museum”. But hearing a lot of buzz about it, how it was envisioned to be a world-class museum that many will appreciate, not to mention me being fascinated in science and technology, my interest was piqued enough for me to check it out.

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First things first, let me give you a brief background about the Mind Museum. This was conceived as a project by the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc., (BAFI) a foundation established in 1996 by the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC) to promote arts, culture, and learning in this rising business district. The members and supporters of this foundation also happen to be among the top guns in the various fields here. Continue reading

11/5/11

“Time will not dim the glory of their deeds*” the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

*quote by General John Pershing, American war hero who served during the First World War

From 1941-1945, the Philippines was a part of a greater battlefield that was the Pacific theater of the Second World War as the forces of Japan and of the United States clashed in a series of encounters aptly described as “hell on earth.” Countless lives were lost as a result, especially among the American troops who fought valiantly for their motherland.

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Once the war was over, the United States government drew up plans as to how to honor its fallen troops. A decision was made to put up a memorial ground on what was then the sprawling soon-to-be former military grounds of Fort McKinley (renamed a few years later to Fort Bonifacio) in the soon-to-be-independent US colony that was the Philippines. As soon as the Philippine government gave the green light, work began on what was to be the largest American war cemetery in terms of size. (it was, after all, 152 acres of land) Continue reading