Muntinlupa is a city in Metro Manila, Philippines. Muntinlupa features two affluent business districts, Filinvest City and Ayala Alabang, but it is easy to be overwhelmed by the noisy sprawl around and miss some other hidden attractions. Just like other similar cities around Metro Manila, Muntinlupa incorporates old and new.
Muntinlupa is generally a suburban city within Metro Manila, with the majority of its population being daily commuters. The city is once a agricultural municipality along the western shores of Laguna de Bay, but after the construction of the South Luzon Expressway, it suddenly grew as industries moved here and many residential subdivisions are constructed on agricultural land. The development of Filinvest City and Ayala Alabang made it another central business district of Metro Manila. Muntinlupa today forms the large urban sprawl of greater Manila, and also full of contrasts, having its mix of affluent developments and ordinary Filipino barangays.
Alabang, the major barangay of Muntinlupa, contains the Filinvest City development, one of the business districts of Metro Manila. It is also a public transport hub, where numerous bus routes from the south terminates. Most of Alabang are rice paddies or cattle pastures until a shift into business and industry since the 1980s converted much of the land into the sprawl it is today. Filinvest City, developed by its namesake real estate developer, Filinvest, follows new urban concepts, with pedestrian-friendly roads and mixed-use buildings. The area is once seen as too classy, but the area is now assimilated to the rest of Muntinlupa, serving as the border with its posher neighbor, Ayala Alabang. Festival Alabang, its anchor shopping center, is now flocked by ordinary and wealthy locals.
To the west of Alabang is Ayala Alabang, the most affluent area that once formed part of Alabang with many choices of fine dining and classy shops. Ask a local anywhere from the city about how it feels to be in Ayala Alabang, and they will be overwhelmed by all the sterility, snobbery and luxury of the barangay. Ayala Alabang houses another business district, Madrigal Business Park, and a large gated community, Ayala Alabang Village, metonymically associated with the area. Despite all the fuzz locals tell, slums do exist there also. To the north is the gated community of Alabang Hills, also lumped with Ayala Alabang but administratively part of Cupang, which houses San Beda College Alabang, a school also commonly seen as exclusive to the rich.
Outside of Filinvest City and Ayala Alabang are just all chaos, the center of everyday life of the low-income majority. Just cross under the Alabang Viaduct from the glitzy Filinvest City or take a jeepney plying the city's main street, National Road, and you'll see the smell, the noise, and the bustle of everyday life in Muntinlupa. That's the real Muntinlupa, with the other hidden gems, like the Jamboree Lake, the noisy Poblacion and its century-old Catholic church, the rather lonely lakeside promenades beside Laguna de Bay, and the Japanese Cemetery. Going into any of them means you will pass though the core of its sprawling barangays, likely as gritty and sketchy as the other part of the metro. It is easy to be taken away by the sterility of Filinvest City and Ayala Alabang, all surrounded by the noisy sprawl dominated by ordinary Filipinos.
What is now Muntinlupa is once a municipality of the province of Rizal. The etymology of the name Muntinlupa is obscure, but there are numerous folk theories for the name, the most known being the Spanish transcription of Tagalog munti sa lupa.
The lands where Muntinlupa is founded are from friar lands back to the days the Spanish arrived and explored the shores of Laguna de Bay. Spanish authorities took ownership in 1869, when the barrios of Alabang, Tunasan, Cupang and Sucat are grouped together. The current city is incorporated as a municipality in 1903, and became part of Laguna, but the local government protested, and in 1905, Muntinlupa is returned to Rizal. In 1941, the national penitentiary, the New Bilibid Prison opened in the hilly area of the municipality. Under the Marcos administration, Muntinlupa is included on Metro Manila. Since the opening of the South Luzon Expressway in 1969, the municipality begins to shift from agriculture to business and industry, and the population doubles as migrants from other parts of the Philippines moves there. In 1995, Muntinlupa gained city status.
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Many provincial buses from southern Luzon terminate at Alabang, while some go past into Pasay or Cubao. Because of rush hour congestion on the Alabang Viaduct, some buses not terminating at Alabang stop over to drop off passengers.
There are two major provincial bus terminals in Alabang, both having connections with city buses and jeepneys. The terminal the bus goes to either of the two depending on the route operator.
- 1 Alabang Bus Terminal, National Road, Alabang (beside Starmall Alabang). Bus terminal operated by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
- 2 South Station Bus Terminal, Alabang—Zapote Road, Alabang (beside the New Muntinlupa Public Market). Newer bus terminal behind South Station, with covered sheds.
You can also take city buses if coming within Metro Manila. Many city bus routes terminate at Alabang. Some buses to San Pedro stop at Alabang when shown or signage or passengers list it as their drop-off point.
|Bus routes serving Muntinlupa|
|Alabang—Lawton via Coastal Road||Festival Alabang (Reinalyn Transport only, during mall hours), South Station (all times); Park N' Ride||Reinalyn Transport, Igan Transport, Alabang Transport Service Cooperative||Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, Parañaque, Manila|
|Alabang—Malanday via EDSA||Starmall Alabang; Puregold Malanday||CEM Transport; Roval Transport||Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Caloocan, Valenzuela|
|Alabang—Navotas via EDSA||Starmall Alabang; Navotas Bus Terminal, C-4 Road, Navotas||Citybus, Commuters Transport||Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas|
|Alabang—Novaliches via EDSA, Paso de Blas (Malinta)||Starmall Alabang; SM City Fairview, Quirino Highway, Greater Lagro, Fairview, Quezon City||Pascual Liner||Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City|
|Alabang—SM Fairview||Starmall Alabang; SM City Fairview, Quirino Highway, Greater Lagro, Fairview, Quezon City||Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City|
|Pacita—Buendia||Pacita Complex, Pacita 1, San Pedro, Laguna; Taft Avenue corner Gil Puyat Avenue, Pasay||BBL Transport, South City Liner||San Pedro, Muntinlupa, Makati, Pasay||Some buses.|
|Pacita—Letre via EDSA||Pacita Complex, Pacita 1, San Pedro, Laguna; Letre Road, Malabon||Worthy Transport, Phil. Tourister Inc.||Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon||Some buses (for Pacita only).|
|Pacita—Navotas via EDSA||Pacita Complex, Pacita 1, San Pedro, Laguna; Navotas Bus Terminal, C-4 Road, Navotas||Cher Transport, Commuters Transport, Stargreen Transport||Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas||Some buses (for Pacita only).|
|Pacita—Novaliches via EDSA, Paso de Blas (Malinta)||Pacita Complex, Pacita 1, San Pedro, Laguna; Novaliches Proper, Novaliches, Quezon City||Dela Rosa Transit, GPS Transport (Saint Rose)||Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City||Some buses (for Pacita only).|
|Pacita—SM Fairview||Pacita Complex, Pacita 1, San Pedro, Laguna; SM City Fairview, Quirino Highway, Greater Lagro, Fairview, Quezon City||Worthy Transport||Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City||Some buses (for Pacita only).|
The South Luzon Expressway passes through Alabang, with three exits, Sucat, Alabang, Filinvest and Susana Heights/MCX. You may also take the Skyway, which terminates at Alabang. From Cavite, you may take the Daang Hari and/or Muntinlupa—Cavite Expressway (MCX)
Philippine National Railways (PNR) operates regular commuter rail service to Alabang station, but the ride tend to become stuffy during midday and rush hours. The station is just behind Starmall Alabang, and you may walk through the mall into Filinvest City via the pedestrian overpasses under and across the Alabang Viaduct.
You may also take a jeepney to reach Muntinlupa, but are rather slower than buses, as they have more flexible stops (when passengers request). All jeepney routes in Muntinlupa originate from the transport hub of Alabang, where jeepneys come and go.
|Alabang||Baclaran||Alabang—Zapote Road, Diego Cera Avenue, Quirino Avenue, CAVITEX (express services only)|
|Alabang||Balibago||SLEX||Express service only. Leaves from South Station.|
|Alabang||Biñan||National Road, SLEX (express services)|
|Alabang||Calamba||National Road, SLEX (express services via Susana Heights Exit)||Jeepneys in this route usually reaches as far as Cabuyao, but rarely terminates at Calamba.|
|Alabang||Carmona||National Road, SLEX (direct express service, or express via Susana Heights Exit)|
|Alabang||Pacita Complex||National Road, SLEX (direct express service, or express via Susana Heights Exit)|
|Alabang||Zapote (Ilalim)||Alabang—Zapote Road|
Key destinations, usually referred by landmarks (see Philippines#By jeepney), are as follows. Boldface indicates those visible on the front signage:
- Bayanan (at National Road cor. Bautista Street)
- Muntinlupa City Hall, or Munisipyo (in front of Medical Center Muntinlupa)
- Poblacion, or Bayan
- Susana Heights
- SM Center Muntinlupa, or simply SM (some jeepneys terminate here)
- Tunasan (near the Tunasan People's Market at KM 30 National Road)
- RMT (just past St. Peregrine Laziosi Parish and Lyceum of Alabang)
If you board express service jeepneys using SLEX, they will exit at Filinvest City, and you will either get down at Festival Alabang (south wing) or South Station. Jeepney fares start at ₱8 for the first 4 kilometers (2.5 mi), with an additional ₱2 for each added kilometer. Routes can be seen on the front and sides of the vehicle.
Filinvest City operates electric jeepneys around key destinations on Alabang.
Muntinlupa's major thoroughfares are limited the National Road and Alabang—Zapote Road. Most of the city's roads are self-contained, often centered on either the two. There are only a few other roads of major importance, such as those in Alabang and Ayala Alabang.
Perhaps, except in Filinvest City or Ayala Alabang, it is not the best idea to drive in the city. As with the rest of Metro Manila, prepare to deal with the many aggressive driving behaviors you may find in the rest of the Philippines, such as motorcycles cutting through you. The numerous shopping malls in the city make it encouranging to drive, but expect costly parking fees (the exception is in SM Center Muntinlupa, where parking has been always free). Elsewhere, parking is scarce, and use public transport instead. Also be aware of the United Vehicle Volume Reduction Program or the "color coding" scheme when driving in Alabang.
Taxi or ride sharingEdit
Taxis or ride-sharing are also available as another option when you want the comfort of car travel. Just find the lines or the booths outside the major malls.
Tricycles are generally used to access areas not served by jeepneys. Pedicabs, a foot-driven version, are used in some barangays, like in Alabang. Tricycle (or pedicab) terminals can be found in major street corners, outside subdivisions, and also at South Station (just next to the jeepneys). Tricycles, however, rarely serve the affluent areas, and they are banned from using the highways. Beware also of scams while in the terminal.
As most Muntinlupa is residential suburb, most of the sights are concentrated in Alabang.
- 1 Insular Life Corporate Center, Corporate Avenue (Just outside Festival Alabang). Office complex with glass-covered twin towers. Has a viewing area on the 34th floor.
- 2 Jamboree Lake, Insular Prison Road, Poblacion (Reachable by jeepney). Philippines' smallest lake, with a small viewing point.
- 3 Diocesan Shrine of St. Peregrine Laziosi (St. Peregrine Laziosi Parish), KM 30 National Road, Tunasan (beside Lyceum of Alabang). 1980s era church devoted to St. Peregrine Laziosi.
- 4 Bayanan Baywalk, Bautista Street, Bayanan (Reachable by tricycle from National Road). Part of city lakeside development with an elementary school, park and boulevard. Provides a view of Laguna de Bay, but is blocked by kangkong (water spinach) plantations.
- 1 Ayala Malls South Park (South Park Mall), National Road (about a half-kilometer from Starmall Alabang). 10:00-21:00. Redeveloped from former Nestle warehouses, it is part of South Park District development, housing condominium towers and a call center building. Opened in 2016, it has fast-food restaurants, a food court, and various shops. Has a Robinsons supermarket and department store.
- 2 Festival Alabang (Festival Mall), Filinvest City, Alabang. 10:00-21:00. Mall constructed as part of the Filinvest City redevelopment. Festival Alabang houses department stores, two supermarkets, two indoor amusement parks, and a variety of restaurants and shops. An expansion area includes a park along the Alabang River.
- 3 New Muntinlupa Public Market (Alabang Public Market), Montillano Street (beside South Station). Alabang's farmers' and flea market, with tiangges selling dry goods such as clothes and houseware.
- 4 Starmall Alabang (Metropolis Star Alabang), National Road, Alabang. Has a Robinsons department store and supermarket, a Wellcome supermarket, tiangges, a resort, and numerous fast-food restaurants. The mall includes also a public terminal for various city and provincial buses, jeepneys, and UV Express vans. The mall is also shrouded by ghost mysteries because it lies above a former cemetery.
- Westgate Alabang, Commerce Avenue, Alabang (past Filinvest Avenue approaching Ayala Alabang), ☎ . Features mid to high-end shops and restaurants.
- 5 Alabang Town Center, Alabang-Zapote Road, Ayala Alabang. Built over where the Boom na Boom amusement park once stood, it is the core of the Ayala Alabang development, with more high-end retailers and restaurants. This mall a Spanish-inspired central park, mostly lined with fine dining restaurants and some shops.
- 6 SM Center Muntinlupa (formerly SM Supercenter Muntinlupa), KM 30 National Road, Tunasan (can be reached by jeepney or bus from Alabang). 10:00-21:00. Small community mall with fast-food restaurants, cinemas, and a few shops. Has a SM Hypermarket and Ace Hardware. Parking is free, and expect the parking lots to be full, especially on weekend sales.
- Molito Lifestyle Center, Madrigal Ave, Ayala Alabang, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Molito is a luxury lifestyle center that features 5-star restaurants. They have a park-like center area with a small fountain for customers to sit and walk around.
Outside Alabang and Ayala AlabangEdit
- 1 Amber Golden Spoon, National Road, Putatan (take the jeepneys via National Road, then get down near Amber Machine Shop or Summitville).
- 2 Ho Chai Lai, National Road, Tunasan (get off the jeepney near Camella Homes 3). Authentic Chinese cuisine, including dim sum, noodles, and congee.
- 3 PRLAN Cafe (Paris - Rome - London - Amsterdam Cafe), 686 National Road, Poblacion (near commercial building on corner with Pedro Diaz Street). Despite its name, it features various Filipino recipes, with an offer for a meal two dishes and one rice. Also has a general store, and three kiosks. Meal starting at ₱60.
- 4 Taiyaki, National Road, Poblacion (Near Caltex.). 07:00-17:00. Japanese fish-shaped cakes, with a choice of mung bean or custard filling
- 5 Wing Bites, Edna Duran Building, 163-A National Road, Tunasan (Near Susana Heights Exit). 11:00-22:00. Offers unlimited chicken wings. There are no spoons or forks available, so you can enjoy either eating by hand using plastic gloves or with your bare hands.
Alabang has many classy night bars and restaurants.
- 1 Picked, KM 30 National Road, Tunasan (outside St. Peregrine Laziosi Parish).
- 1 The Bellevue Manila, North Bridgeway, Northgate Cyberzone, Filinvest Corporate City, ☎ , fax: . The Bellevue is the only deluxe hotel in the south of Manila, as classified by the Philippine Department of Tourism. From US$95.
- 2 Parque Espana Residence Hotel, 5309 East Asia Drive, Filinvest Corporate City, ☎ , fax: . Designed for residential living. From US$60.
- 3 Acacia Hotel Manila, 5400 East Asia Drive corner Commerce Avenue, ☎ . A/C guestrooms and suites equipped with 40-inch LCD TV, wi-fi access, shower and bathtub. Some of its facilities and services are swimming pool, poolside bar, gym, Wi-Fi in public areas & LAN, restaurant and car park. From US$138.
- 4 Azumi Botique Hotel. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Luxury hotel not far from the business district, popular among business travelers. ₱3050.
- 5 B Hotel Alabang, 2107 Prime St, Madrigal Business Park, Ayala Alabang, ☎ . ₱3091.
- Vivere Hotel, 5102 Bridgeway Avenue, Filinvest City, Alabang, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. In the middle of Alabang, it is accessible to nearby malls like Festival Mall and Alabang Town Center. It has 200 rooms and suites. The hotel also provides business facilities. One of its main attractions is The Nest, a luxury dining area located at the 31st floor of the hotel. $200.
- 6 Hotel Sogo Alabang, National Road, Alabang (Just a walk from Starmall Alabang). Part of two-star motel chain, often having a reputation as haven for extramarital sex, but can be a cheap option in town. Has air-conditioned rooms with cable TV. ₱2100 a day.
- 7 El Rancho Inn, 678 National Road, Tunasan (On top of commercial building near Mercury Drug), ☎ . Rooms only have air-conditioning and cable TV. There is no hot shower or WiFi available. Slightly as twice the price of Hotel Sogo in Alabang. ₱2300.
With the rest of Metro Manila, crime is a concern. Of major concern is the busy area of Alabang, where pickpockets and bag snatchers are not only the problem, but there are also various criminals, including hold-up robbers, who will rob you at gunpoint, and budol-budol members, who use hypnosis to abet their victims. Beware also of touts in taxis and tricycles, where they may not only rip you off, but in some cases, they may bring you elsewhere. The business districts of Filinvest City and Ayala Alabang may not look as safe as it may seem, so use common sense when bringing valuables, like cell phones, money, and cameras, as they can attract opportunistic thieves.
While not very obvious, most populated areas in Muntinlupa straddle the West Valley Fault, a major fault that can potentially cause a destructive 7.2 earthquake. Earthquake drills, in addition to fire drills, are regularly held in the city.
Muntinlupa is the first city in the Philippines to pass a local law banning single-use plastics since 2011, and that means you must bring at least a reusable bag when shopping in the city. In restaurants, food packaging must be made of recyclable material, but utensils, like spoons, forks, knives and straws are still permitted to be made of plastic. Businesses however are encouraged to use utensils made of reusable and recyclable material. The plastic ban does not cover plastic bags used to handle wet goods, and plastics are still permitted as packaging for wet products.