People who ride the MRT know that most of the train’s bulk of passengers get on and off in Araneta Center, the centerpiece of shopping, dining and transport in Quezon City and one of the most famous entertainment hubs in the Philippines.
(Photo by Philippines-UKcom)
In fact, over a million guests are said to visit the 35-hectare commercial area every day, and for many reasons. Most are enticed by the center’s many attractions, shopping malls, transport hubs, thrift shops, and of course, by the 25,000-seater Araneta Coliseum, Asia’s biggest entertainment venue that used to be the biggest indoor arena in the world when it opened in 1960.
The Big Dome
Araneta Coliseum, also known as the Big Dome, is the historic venue of many international boxing bouts, basketball matches, and concerts for the whole family. Among the most memorable boxing games held here are Filipino boxer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde’s 1960 win over American Harold Gomes, and Muhammad Ali’s 1975 victory over Joe Frazier, which has been tagged “Thrilla in Manila.”
Among the dome’s most famous visitors are NBA superstars Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, and Grant Hill. International artists like the Jackson Five, Backstreet Boys, Julio Iglesias, Paul Anka, Nat King Cole, Neil Sedaka, Menudo, and Angela Bofill have also performed in the coliseum, along with hundreds of ice shows and circuses. The arena, too, is nearby the amusement park, Fiesta Carnival.
To know the Big Dome’s list of events and their schedules, log on to http://www.aranetacoliseum.com/2006/index.php.
The most popular shopping mall in Araneta Center is Gateway, a five-level establishment that boasts of a food court, up-market boutiques, and 10 luxurious cinemas, including the country’s first La-Z-Boy theater. Gateway’s ceremonial entrance is the egg-like Faberge pavilion, while its “Oasis” is an interior floating garden that opens to the sky.
Gateway Mall (Photo from The Araneta Center)
Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily. Website: http://www.gatewaymall.com.ph/main07.php.
Cubao X or Cubao Expo in Gen. Romulo Street is among the newest additions in Araneta Center yet it has become among the most popular attractions in the complex for its novelty shops that boasts of thematic, quirky interiors and bohemian vibe. The area boasts of four restaurants, including one that serves Vegan-friendly dishes and organic food.
It also has six thrift shops, a comic book store, a Chinese deli bar, five clothes and accessories boutiques, an old-style beauty parlor, a bookstore selling vintage trade books, an organic goods shop, eccentric furniture stores, nine shoe shops, and a reggae-themed bar (Mogwai) that dabbles as a small venue for independent film showing and live band music.
Cubao X is located behind Ali Mall, the Automatic Superstore, and Advanced Contact Solutions Call Center. It is also behind Puregold grocery store and the Araneta Bus Terminal. Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Website: http://cubaoexpo.multiply.com/.
The first fully-enclosed shopping mall in the country is Ali Mall, named after boxing icon Muhammad Ali, who made his historic fight with Joe Frazier at the Big Dome in 1975. The 62,000-square-meter entertainment enclave hosts four storeys of amusement arcades, designer boutiques, specialty shops, a food gallery, five cinemas, and a multi-level car park. Among its 250 stores are National Bookstore, Gerry’s Grill, Tokyo Tokyo, Pancake House, and Max’s Restaurant. Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily.
The five-storey Farmers Plaza is a shopping complex that has over 230 stores including the grocery Rustan’s Xpresslane, Handyman, National Bookstore, and Mercury Drug, among others. It is linked to the Cubao station of the MRT and is located along Manila’s busiest thoroughfares: Aurora Boulevard and EDSA. Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The 12,000-square-meter Farmers Market specializes on selling fresh produce and other items. Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Farmers Market (Photo by bluewaikiki)
The 22-level Aurora Tower has 18 floors dedicated to commercial and office space. The department store Isetann occupied the building’s first seven floors, while the top floors host a helipad and a penthouse that offer a commanding view of the metropolis. Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
How to get to Araneta Center
Araneta Center is at the Araneta Center Cubao station of LRT-Line 2 and the Cubao station of the MRT. It is easily accessible through a taxi from anywhere in Manila.
Petty crimes like robbery, cellphone snatching and theft have declined in Araneta Center through the years but it still pays to be careful.