Free playgrounds in Bonifacio



Let me get this out of the way. For the record, I think the name “Bonifacio Global City” is complicated, reduntant and too long. I’ve always known that area as just plain old “Bonifacio”. Then when the new development came in, we all called it The Fort. Somehow that name stuck. My friends and I still say “The Fort.”

The new developers have invested in rebranding the place as BGC. For the life of me, I find it too hard to pronounce those three letters. Can’t imagine how everyone else copes. And although it’s a highly urbanized area, it is not a city in the sense that it has no local government of its own. It is “private property” – and they have signs to remind you. And the term “global”. Really? Can’t they just call it Bonifacio? One word?

That’s just me nitpicking. Can’t shake off the urban planner in me. Now that that’s out of the way, hello BGC. The upside is, Bonifacio’s management does try to do some pretty amazing things. I have long been a fan of their public art and open spaces. They plan to keep 15% of the land development as open spaces for outdoor activities. Wish there were more trees though…

BGC recently opened theme parks, Terra 28th, Track 30th, and Turf BGC. And here’s how awesome BGC is – Terra 28th and Track 30th are open to the public FREE OF CHARGE. This makes me want to take up running.

Terra 28th is a playground for kids and families who simply want to hang out together and have fun. It has creative installations for hands-on outdoor play. Track 30th is designed with lush greens, eco-friendly functional installations, and areas for exercising and meditating. In Turf BGC, the publicly-accessible football field frequented by Azkals and UFL teams, the exciting sport found a new home and attracted new legions of fans.

BGC sent me photos of the parks. They heard that I’m passionate about the need for public parks, playgrounds for kids and kids at heart and public art. All photos from BGC Press Kit.


Interactive art. This Color Me Chameleon changes its skin color with the turning of its colorful glass beads.


Back to outdoor basics at Terra 28th’s Larong Pinoy area where traditional Filipino games of piko, habulan-taya, holen, luksong baka, and patintero can be played.


Terra 28th’s colorful Rest and Play Ribbon playground set has monkey bars, swings, and see-saws. Unfortunately I do not see any trees. I don’t think kids can play here ’til 5pm. It’s just too hot. I love the play sets though. Wish my little park project in my community can get something like these. (I am struggling with that, by the way.)


Track 30th’s Raised Running Disc helps track the distance the runner has covered. It is made of recycled shredded rubber.


Yoga practices at Track 30th. Specific Gravity yoga school in BGC guides the guests in their stretches.


Made from old telephone posts, Pole Position is a functional installation for stretching, push-ups, sit-ups, and other fitness routines.


This is Turf BGC, a publicly accessible football field in a highly urbanized area. Turf BGC uses Max-S artificial turf made of ternate yarn, produced by Limonta Italy, a FIFA-certified Preferred Turf Producer.


Terra 28th and Track 30th are open to the public free of charge daily from 6 AM to 10 PM. For Turf BGC reservation and schedule of activities, call 816-2372. Visit for more information.



This house in the country



I was going through my archives and found this house that we featured in UZ a few years ago. It was one of my favourites then. And I still love it now. This has actually influenced us to plan for our own (imaginary) country home some day.

This property was huge. It was the family’s weekend home. The owners had some farm animals, a beautiful courtyard, amazing antiques and the most comfortable kitchen. I loved how the structures felt perfect in its locality yet they reflected a mix of styles like  tropical, Filipino, mission-style and Mediterranean architecture. The plants were thriving. The art collection, superb. Charming place.


From that Farm House we featured in UZ
Lush greenery surrounding the house, personally tended by the owner.


From that Farm House we featured in UZ
Entrance to the private quarters.


Wide walkways
The house was set-up with different “pavilions” connected by this wide walkway. It was stunning.


More from that Farm House we featured in UZ
A pop of colour in the dining area.


From that Farm House we featured in UZ
The bedroom of one of the sons.


From that Farm House we featured in UZ
The living room


Master's bathroom
Master bathroom


Who is the artist?
Who is the artist? Is it Santi Bose? Ventura? Anyone…anyone?


I love this painting
I fell in love with this painting, and I still don’t know who the artist is.


There was a mini-courtyard surrounded by the bedrooms.


I want this courtyard.


The upper deck


From that Farm House we featured in UZ
There was a breezy play room on the second floor of the main house, accessible from the upper deck.





The Urban Zone story



Here’s something my old UZ team (Manny Segunto, Denmark Alejandro and Maila Cuevas) made for me. I know a lot of you miss Urban Zone on television. So I will try to show you some fresh new webisodes of awesome house tours here in I hope you stay tuned for those…

I’ve missed UZ and I know you Urbanistas are still wanting… This one is for you.




Host & Producer: Daphne Osena Paez
Segment Producers: Denmark Alejandro & Manny Segunto
Researcher: Maila Cuevas
Videographer of interviews: Paolo Ruiz
Location of interviews: Marriott Hotel Manila
Clothing sponsor: K&Company



Shanghai, skyscraper city



All my friends who lived or still live in Shanghai highly recommended we skip going up the Oriental Pearl Tower. Too touristy – they knew we’d hate it. Add to that the river cruise, unless you enjoy crowds. So we skipped both and instead we went up a few skyscrapers in Pudong and had drinks at hotel bars.


That’s Pudong on the other side of the river across from the Bund. Development only started in Pudong in 1995. Before that, everything was pretty much in the Shanghai (Bund) side. This is me in our hotel room at the Waldorf, which was as much about the river view as it was about the luxurious service. Being a lover of architecture, I had to see these landmark buildings.


Our first stop was Flair, suggested by Lylah who’s been living in Shanghai for over a decade. Flair is the rooftop bar of the Ritz Carlton.


Click “More…” to see more skyscraper stories.



Gentrified Shanghai – Tianzifang



Taxi cabs are really cheap in Shanghai. Language is an issue if you don’t speak Chinese. So it’s best to ask your hotel to write your destinations/itinerary in Chinese characters. But I loved that the cabs were so cheap, we were able wander around without a real plan.

Every single person who knew we were going to Shanghai said that we should go to Xintiandi. And I agree, it’s not to be missed. It’s a very posh shopping, eating and entertainment district – which I didn’t really care much for because everything felt too international. At one point I felt like I was in Hazelton Lanes in Toronto. Xintiandi deserves it’s own post though (later), because it’s a great example of a gentrified redevelopment of what used to be traditional row houses/shikumen. It was beautiful and perfect. But on our first day, I was looking for charm and more local colour. So we went to Tianzifang.




Beautiful sycamore trees at Xintiandi. Why can’t we have tree lined streets?


My friend Lylah Juinio has been living in China as an expat for over 10 years. She was responsible for awakening my interest in Shanghai. On her list of recommendations was Tianzifang, knowing that I like artsy fartsy stuff. Here’s my impression of Tianzifang – the gateway entry and narrow streets reminded me of the Cashbahs in Morocco (from what I remembered when I was 16); the many hipster creative entrepreneurs had a very Williamsburg, Brooklyn vibe; the handcrafts looked like a fun 3D Etsy site; and the quaint small international restaurants at one point felt very Boracay D’Mall. It’s like Malugay’s The Collective if more hipster artists moved in. And I mean all that in a good way. It was a total contrast from the perfectly manicured Xintiandi. Though both redevelopments were planned by the government (nothing here is accidental, everything is perfectly planned), Tianzifang felt a bit more organic.


One of the many entrance gates into Tianzifang, along Taikang Road.


Taikang Road had buildings that looked like this.


Very interesting use of wire mesh/screen.


We wandered around Tianzifang’s narrow streets until night time.


Patrick went shopping in this quaint antique shop that specialized in eyewear.



Click “More…” to see my gazillion Tianzifang photos.