malls in the Philippines

Experience a bit of New York and Europe in Araneta City’s Gateway 2 Mall 

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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Experience a bit of New York and Europe in Araneta City’s Gateway 2 Mall 

MODERN. The redeveloped Araneta City is now much different from its old self in Cubao, Quezon City.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

If you want to cool off while experiencing a bit of the vibe of New York and Europe, Araneta City’s Gateway 2 Mall is the place to be

MANILA, Philippines – If you want to escape the extreme heat and catch glimpses of New York, Spain, France, and Italy in Metro Manila, the best place to cool off is Araneta City. 

Handrail, Architecture, Building
COLUMNS. Gateway Mall 2’s south-wing entrance leads to Robinsons’ Shopwise International Grocery and to the atrium where several restaurants and a long fountain are located. Jire Carreon/Rappler

Its P5-billion Gateway Mall 2 opened in mid-2023, and most of the shops in the eight-level mall are already open for business.

LINK. Araneta City is the only commercial district that connects MRT-3 directly to LRT-2 via the Cubao Station, benefiting those who live east of Metro Manila such as Marikina City, Antipolo City, other parts of Rizal. Composite/Rappler file

Like Midtown Manhattan in New York, Araneta City is a major transit hub. It’s the only commercial complex in Metro Manila that serves both the MRT-3 and LRT-2, and it also has a bus port with routes to various parts of Metro Manila as well as parts of Luzon island.

Experience a bit of New York and Europe in Araneta City’s Gateway 2 Mall 

Given its strategic location, Araneta City gets one million visitors every day (including repeat train commuters), many of whom now have a more comfortable way of moving from LRT-2 to MRT-3 via Gateway 1 and 2 Mall and Farmers Plaza and vice versa, if they enter during mall hours. 

Medyo unique kami, para kaming Midtown Manhattan (We’re a bit unique, we’re like Midtown Manhattan),” Rowell Recinto, senior management consultant of Araneta City, told Rappler.

Handrail, Architecture, Building
MODERN. Gateway Mall 2’s glass and steel architecture, such as this oval roof, is similar to modern buildings around the world. Escalators at the north wing of Gateway 2 Mall lead to ibis Styles Hotel’s front desk and its French restaurant Le Bistro. Sagrada Familia Chapel is on the 5th floor beside Le Bistro. Jire Carreon/Rappler

“There’s Madison Square Garden [in New York], we have Araneta Coliseum. Nandoonyung Broadway, we have New Frontier [Theater]. They also have residential, may residential din kami. May office doon, may office din kami. Tapos, nandoon din ‘yung subway ng New York; meron din kaming MRT-3, LRT-2. So, parang in a sense, ‘yun ‘yung hinabol namin.”

(They have Madison Square Garden, we have Araneta Coliseum. They have a theater district, Broadway, we have New Frontier. They also have residential buildings, we too have residential. They have offices, we also have offices. And there’s a subway in New York. We also have MRT-3 and LRT-2. So, in a sense, that’s what we’re after.)  

In line with its New York vibe, the Araneta Group and its developer for Araneta City’s residential buildings, billionaire Andrew Tan’s Megaworld Corporation, jointly agreed to call its transit-oriented residential development “Manhattan Garden City,” which includes condominiums Manhattan Parkway (3 towers), Manhattan Parkview (3 towers), Manhattan Heights (4 towers), and Manhattan Plaza (currently 2 towers). There’s also Times Square Avenue that starts from Manhattan Parkway/Manhattan Parkview that leads to Ali Mall, and occasionally, Times Square Food Park.

Araneta City’s Sagrada Familia Chapel on top of Gateway Mall 2 was inspired by the Oculus, an architectural gem in New York, as well as the Pope’s Mitre hat.

SACRED. The all-white Sagrada Familia Chapel on top of Gateway 2 Mall, inspired by the Oculus in New York and the Pope’s mitre, has a Sensory Garden around it. Jire Carreon/Rappler

The chapel’s name is taken from Spain’s famous tourist spot in Barcelona, Spain, the Basilica de Sagrada Familia designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The all-white chapel can accommodate 1,000 people. 

Architecture, Building, Person
ROME, ITALY. The ruins of the Colosseum. Joshua Berida/Rappler

The 20,000-seater Big Dome is also Araneta City’s Italian symbol. The Araneta Group’s founder, industrialist Don Amado Araneta, had been to Rome, Italy, where he saw the Colosseum and said he would build a modern one in the Philippines, according to his son, Jorge, now the group’s chairman and president who is overseeing the city’s redevelopment. Araneta Coliseum opened in 1960.

BIG DOME. The renovated and rebranded Smart Araneta Coliseum, completed in 1960, was once the largest dome in Asia with its 108-meter-span. Jire Carreon/Rappler

Through the years, Araneta Coliseum has been a popular venue for beauty pageants, concerts, and major sporting events, the last major one being a co-host of the FIBA World Cup 2023. It holds over 250 events yearly.

BIG DOME. Araneta City sells Araneta Coliseum merchandise such as T-shirts and tote bags. The 20,000-seater coliseum opened in 1960. Isagani de Castro Jr/Rappler

Filipino chef Margarita Araneta Fores, Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2016, is known for her Italian restaurant Cibo, which is located at the ground floor of Coliseum Plaza. Other restaurants in this area of Gateway Mall 2 are Manam, Nono’s, Tim Ho Wan, The Matcha Tokyo, Shake Shack, Salad Stop, which have extended mall hours.

Indoors, Restaurant, Cafe
ITALIAN. Filipino chef Margarita Fores’ CIBO serves Italian dishes in Gateway Mall 2 in Araneta City, Quezon City. Jire Carreon/Rappler

Fores also has Filipino restaurant Grace Park in Gateway Mall 2’s Restaurant Collection which has a black-themed fountain at the center. Other food places in the atrium area are Abé, a mano, Botejyu, Che Buono, Mamou, Choi Garden, Mamou, Mango Tree Café, Starbucks, and UCC Park Café, among others.

Indoors, Restaurant, Cafeteria
THE LAGOON. A fountain surrounded by plants at the center of the Restaurant Collection of Gateway Mall 2’s atrium in Araneta City provides mallgoers a cool and calm ambience. Jire Carreon/Rappler

Gateway Mall 1 has 10 cinemas, while Gateway Mall 2 has eight new cinemas, making it the Philippine mall with the most number of movie screens at 18. With only a few moviegoers watching in cinemas these days, it’s often very cold in Philippine theaters. 

Architecture, Building, Corridor
CINEPLEX 18. Gateway Mall 2 adds 8 cinemas to Gateway Mall’s 10 cinemas for a total of 18 theaters, the most number in any mall in the Philippines, in Araneta City, Quezon City. Jire Carreon/Rappler

Gateway Mall 2 also has The Quantum Skyview, an LED-powered ceiling that can show various digital spectacles. Araneta City says it’s the first of its kind in the Philippines. 

SKYVIEW. The digital LED-ceiling Quantum Skyview in Gateway Mall 2, Araneta City is the only one of its kind in the Philippines. Jire Carreon/Rappler

The 700-square-meter Quantum Skyview activity area has been used for many live events since 2023.

After spending over P30 billion redeveloping Araneta Center, the Araneta Group dropped references to Cubao as its address and rebranded as Araneta City in 2019. SM Cubao, for instance, has been renamed SM Araneta City.

“Cubao was a gritty place before, e sa dami naman ng ginastos namin, inayos namin (we’ve spent so much, we fixed the) sanitation, security…. This isn’t your father’s Cubao anymore,” said Recinto.

CUBAO. Some of the properties in Araneta City are not part of the 35 hectares owned by the Araneta family, such as the former Marikina Shoe Expo, later renamed as Cubao Expo, near the COD. building, as seen in this photo taken on January 28, 2024. Isagani de Castro Jr./Rappler
CONTRAST. Old structures of Cubao stand beside new modern buildings like Manhattan Heights towers as seen from Cubao Expo, a collection of antique, shoe and thrift shops; cafés, and a couple of restaurants. Formerly Marikina Shoe Expo, this place has stood the test of time. Isagani de Castro, Jr./Rappler
City, Metropolis, Urban
CHANGING. Old buildings in Cubao, such as the Ramos family’s red Natonal Book Store Building beside Gateway Mall 1, are not part of the Araneta family’s real properties in Araneta City. A former theater at the corner of Gen. Roxas Avenue and Gen. Araneta Avenue is now used as a worship center. Jire Carreon/Rappler

Expected to open middle of the year is Filipino six-time world bowling champion Paeng Nepomuceno’s “Paeng Gateway Bowl” at level 3 of Gateway 2. 

Another unique space set to open is Pop District that will sell K-Pop and P-Pop merchandise. It will also have a café. 

Shop, Shopping Mall, Architecture
PHILIPPINE CUISINE. The Palenque food hall in Gateway 2 Mall brings together Filipino dishes from north to south. Jire Carreon/Rappler

For those who want a diverse offering of Filipino cuisine, they can go to Palenque Food Hall at the Upper Ground B, which serves Ilocano, Kapampangan, and southern Philippine food, plus Filipino deli. With the opening of renowned Filipino chef Claude Tayag’s Nasi by Bale Dutung, Palenque is now complete.

PAMPANGA. Chef Claude Tayag’s Nasi by Bale Dutung offers Kapampangan dishes such as Kilayin, Balo Balo, and Ningnang Kapmpangan. Isagani de Castro, Jr/Rappler

For those who prefer American food brands, there’s Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kenny Roger’s Roasters. There’s also Wolfgang Steakhouse, one of the top steakhouses in New York City, at the upper ground near the Red Entrance to Smart Araneta Coliseum.

STEAKS. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, a famous steakhouse in New York founded by Wolfgang Zwiener, has a Philippine outlet in Gateway 2 Mall, Araneta City. Jire Carreon/Rappler

Another food court that will offer various international cuisine was still unfinished, as of posting. 

TRANSIT. A cross-section of Gateway Mall 1 and Gateway Mall 2 starting from the LRT-2 Cubao Station along Aurora Boulevard (left) shows the main attractions of the Araneta Group’s flagship mall from its north wing to its south wing. Isagani de Castro, Jr./Rappler

The whole Araneta City has over 10,000 parking slots, the biggest of which is its Parking Garage South with 1,500 beside Novotel Manila. 

TOP VIEW. Araneta Coliseum is now surrounded by Gateway 1 and 2 Mall, ibis Styles Hotel, Novotel Hotel, and a multi-level Parking Garage South, as seen in this drone shot. Jire Carreon/Rappler

Gateway 2 Mall has over 400 brands in fashion, technology, gaming, health and wellness, leisure and entertainment. 

With the partial opening of the French brand ibis Styles Hotel last month, the redevelopment of the Araneta family-owned commercial complex is substantially complete. Since there’s limited land left in its land bank, Recinto said any future redevelopment would involve tearing down old buildings such as Ali Mall, the Philippines’ first enclosed, fully air-conditioned, multi-level commercial mall, and the structure housing the Fiesta Carnival amusement center. –

French brand ibis Styles opens its first hotel in Philippines – with a Filipino touch 

French brand ibis Styles opens its first hotel in Philippines – with a Filipino touch 

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.