April 30, 2012, 3:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — Many of today’s bustling countries are more known for cities where the action happens. Italy has Milan, Australia has Sydney, China has Shanghai, and the U.S. has New York City. None of these cities, popular destinations that they have been for so long, are their country’s capital.

Is the Philippines’ premier city Makati? In a recent presentation to a select group of media, Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) revealed that this is what they’re aiming for, and they’re not starting from ground zero. Today, Makati is home to businesses—large and small—and boasts of the best hotels, malls, restaurants and residential spaces. Research on public perception has shown Makati as a leader and visionary city, and the top choice as the country’s capital.

“There has been a renewed interest in the country. For many investors, Makati has been the front door into the Philippines,” ALI President and CEO Antonino Aquino explains.

Improving Lives

Through their new campaign, “Make it Makati,” ALI, in cooperation with the city government and business groups, will make it easier for people to live, work, shop and be in Makati. Driven by this desire to improve the lives of residents, visitors and workers of Makati, the premier real estate developer has invested P60 billion to get this five-year comprehensive and formidable plan going. “Basically, the plan was to create new nodes that didn’t exist before,” Aquino adds.

Pedestrianization And Public Transport

Because it is a bustling metropolis, it is also one of the most intimidating traffic centers in Mega Manila. ALI aims to address this through the pedestrianization project, beginning with Ayala Avenue. This may sound like a hefty feat, but work is already underway to make commuting to the city and going around its various areas on foot. Think wider sidewalks, open spaces and the more eco-friendly mass public transit, the BRT.

Changes may be most visible along Ayala Avenue, the central vein of the Makati we all know, because from it ALI’s program aims to connect the various areas not just through the roads and elevated walkways, which they are even extending, but also underground. It has worked so far, with people crossing from one side of Ayala to the other, from one block to the next. Apparently, that’s not all these underground pedestrian tunnels will connect. What could be the next best solution to eliminate traffic snarls? Underground parking that would enable traffic to enter one side of Makati and exit to the other side.

Six Districts, Six Lines Of Business

ALI is also working on the autonomy in each area it is interconnecting, creating identifiable distinctions among their districts, six in all.

Makati South, where the MRT brings in thousands of commuters into and out of the city, would be the transport hub. Ayala Center, with the premium hotels and trend-setting commercial malls, is already the cosmopolitan district, but will also soon have Philippine flagship stores of several of the most popular retail brands. Then, there is the bulk that has been known as the Makati CBD. The Ayala Triangle Gardens, already flourishing as a popular spot to refresh in in the midst of all the city’s frenzy, has been designed to do just that, as the urban oasis. Makati North will be better known as the young and creative district. Finally, there is the soon-to-be-reborn Sta. Ana (remember what used to be the racetrack? It’s actually Ayala Avenue extension), which will be developed as the entertainment center. Their organization’s city planning has been so efficient that they have been able to put establishments and residential structures that match, together in one community. Take a look around and double check in order to comprehend, counting in the currently boarded up construction sites announcing or teasing the public with what they can expect to rise soon.

Art and Ecology, two aspects that are easily associated with any ALI development, will get even more highlighted in the new Makati. “In the Ayala Triangle Gardens, for one, you can expect more creative and eco-friendly activities through our signature events, which we are extending to accommodate year-round community activity. We always believed that art should not be limited to museums,” says Meean Dy, ALI group head for Strategic Land Bank Management.

At present, there are several boarded-up construction projects that may look minor, but don’t be fooled. Underneath is where all action is taking place—probably completing those new nodes that didn’t use to exist. As the boards say, “Make it happen, Make it Makati!” Ayala Land, Inc. is doing exactly that, to deliver this dream metropolis.