Glitz, glamour, and all the comforts of an on-the-go, round-the-clock lifestyle is what Alabang is all about. Once a forested barrio (barangáy) of Muntinlupà, it now has come to be one of the richest barrios not only in Metro Manila but in the whole country as well because this place is the site of many multinational companies and other well-known establishments in a beautifully landscaped setting. Simply put, it is the business hub, the lifeblood, of the entire City of Muntinlupà.
|Walking our way to Easter Sunday Mass at the beautifully designed Saint Jerome Emiliani and Santa Susana Church whose steeple is at the background behind yonder trees.|
So well-established, so popular, so urban, is the name Alabang that many people mistake it for a city when the truth is that it is included within the territory of Ciudad de Muntinlupà! And like in all humble beginnings, Alabang wasn't always like this. As mentioned earlier, the place was forested, infested with many hills of talahib, and pockets of farmlands. As a boy living in nearby BF Homes Parañaque, we used to pass by this barrio via the Alabang-Zapote Road whenever we go to my dad's hometown of Unisan, Tayabas. I can still vividly remember the scent of fresh air all around the area because of the abundance of greenery on both sides of the road (but fenced with barbed wire). The only commercial establishments I remember being there during my early childhood years were McDonald's, which then seemed to be on top of a hill (that part of the road was probably not yet elevated, or its being on a high place was probably just a childhood imagining), and Alabang Town Center.
Alabang's commercialization started in 1972 when the Madrigal family, owning 1.6 sq mi of land in the said barrio, offered to sell their property to the Ayala Corporation. Sensing more opportunities, the Ayala Corporation instead opted to a joint real estate development with the Madrigal family, to which the latter agreed to later on. The joint venture was a success, with more buyers exceeding the number of lots being sold, compelling the Madrigal-Ayala partnership to buy more parcel of land from various land owners in nearby areas. Development soon became inevitable.
Alabang has since came to be known as the "Macati of the South" because of its several multinational companies, malls, and other high-end establishments and entertainment venues. We frequent the place because of its proximity to our home, and it's less polluted compared to other places in Metro Manila. Even the area of Filinvest Corporate City still has large patches of greenery (which turns into crisp brown every summer).
The following photos were taken during our Eastern Sunday stroll in Alabang, Ciudad de Muntinlupà last April 20.
|Iglesia de San Jerónimo Emiliani y Santa Susana.|
|Easter Sunday Mass at the Saint Jerome Emiliani and Santa Susana Parish Church.|
After Mass, we went to our favorite mall, Alabang Town Center, for lunch and to just look around. We visit malls not to shop but just to pig out and enjoy the bright lights and sounds. Doon lang, masayá na camí. Simpleng buhay ba. =)
|Going to our favorite mall, Alabang Town Center. This is the mall's side entrance which faces Theater Drive (near the Church of Saint Jerome Emiliani and Santa Susana).|
After lunch, we were supposed to treat the kids to Captain America: The Winter Soldier (actually, I was the one who influenced them to watch the film; I confess to being a Marvel fanboy, hehehe!). But it was no longer shown there. So we headed towards nearby Festival Supermall to watch the flick. But before that, we passed by Northgate Cyberzone, home to numerous BPO industries and a five-star hotel.
Northgate Cyberzone is the information technology park within Alabang's Filinvest Corporate City. It was there where I have spent many stressful but fun years as a call center guy and have built many friendships. My wife Yeyette and many of our friends still work there up to now. It was there, too, where I met this odd character by the name of Arnaldo Arnáiz who's in to saya de colas and vintage windows, hehe!
|The five-star Vivere Hotel and the twin towers of the Insular Life Corporate Center are found within Filinvest Corporate City's territory.|
We then proceeded to Vivere Hotel, just a few steps away from Festival Supermall. Me and Yeyette have been to this hotel countless times already, but only to savor its breakfast buffet. We've never checked-in here before but we plan to do so together with the rest of the Alas caboodle, hopefully next year.
|Vivere Hotel is into weird architectural design, something which only they can understand.|
|Imagine having a living room like this.|
|On our way to the 31st floor where The Nest is situated.|
|I doubt if Captain America would survive if he jumps from this height (the Winter Soldier did, hehe).|
|Here at The Nest, people can take part of luxurious food while enjoying a spectacular view of Laguna de Bay, the rest of Muntinlupà City, and beyond.|
|Momay and Krystal gazing towards Northgate Cyberzone below. We were down there just a few minutes prior!|
And since Vivere Hotel is right beside Insular Life Corporate Center, we thought of paying the place a visit. Besides, there's a recently installed historical marker there that I've been wanting to see for a long time.
|On our way to the twin towers of Insular Life Corporate Center.|
Finally, it's Winter Soldier time on a summer at Festival Supermall!
|The kids are raring to see Captain America and The Winter Soldier. They had no idea that I was more excited than them, hehe!|
|One thing we love about Festival Supermall is the abundance of trees surrounding it.|
|We arrived a bit early before the next screening, so we walked around first and had dinner.|
|Captain Jefe and his mighty carton shield! We watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier here in Festival Supermall, and it has since become my favorite film of all time.|
For the complete photo album of our Easter Sunday visit to Alabang, Muntinlupà City, click here.
Now for my favorite part: history! What could be the origin of Alabang's name? Many years ago, during my first visit to the Rizal Shrine in Calambâ, La Laguna, I saw there hanging by a wall a blown-up replica of an old map of Laguna de Bay's western bay and its environs.
|The name Río de Albán appears on this map which can be seen inside the reconstructed ancestral house of José Rizal in Calambâ (photo courtesy of Arnaldo).|
As you can see from the map, the name Río de Albán (River of Albán) appears above Montinlupà. Comparing this map to modern ones will reveal that Río de Albán is situated exactly where modern-day Alabang now stands, and it corresponds to a river called nowadays as Mañgañgate River. To frequent visitors of Festival Supermall, Mañgañgate is the same turtle-teemed river you see along the covered walk leading towards the mall's northeastern entrance (that part of the river recently had a facelift and is now called River Park).
Admittedly, I do not know what Albán means, but I'm certain that it evolved from Albán to Alabang, just like the case of Cuyapo to Quiapò, or Tundun to Tondo, for instance. And I have no idea why Albán river is now called as Mañgañgate. But good ol' Arnaldo has this to say:
Reason led me to believe that Albán is the true origin of word Alabang. My friend was right. In this town, one could notice the usual changing of the spelling of last name and some places — efforts to convert into Tagalog letters name’s originally of Spanish beginning, like the popular last name "Buñe" becoming "Bunyi", the town name from "Monte" to "Munting". This has resulted to losing the word's inceptive meaning. There was a time when Muntinlupeños found it convinient to get rid of their Spanish sounding last name, the attitude of repulsion towards anything Spanish.
Origins of words and names of places tell us stories of the past. It would make me really happy that a day would come when none of us can change this names no more. Let’s keep this name for they will tell the future generation what we were like. Sometimes the name tells it all.
|A portion of Mañgañgate/Albán River which flows beside Festival Mall. This beautified portion is known as River Park. The site offers 11 unique dining concepts — from coffee shops to casual dining and post dinner options in an al fresco setting (photo courtesy of Manila Bulletin).|
Whether we like it or not, industrial development is inevitable in a capitalist society. Be that as it may, we must not shun nature and heritage; Alabang, Muntinlupà has its share of both. They should always be at the forefront of any progressive venture to preserve the place's identity. To Filinvest Corporate City's credit (not excluding other corporate or individual entities involved), it appears that they are taking good care of many aspects of Alabang. My family is hoping that they preserve more of the place's verdant characteristics because they make Alabang worth visiting over and over again.