One’s journey to the Philippines usually begins and ends in Metro Manila, the country’s bustling capital. A mix of urban development and historic sentiment, the city is dotted with pulsating commercial districts and colorful heritage sites.
Right at the epicenter of Metro Manila is the Makati Central Business District, a vibrant financial hub home to the best five star hotels in Makati, premium shopping malls, well-curated galleries and museums, and posh concept restaurants for the refined world traveler.
Philippine Stock Exchange
Since its inception in 1927, the Philippine Stock Exchange has been in continuous operations as the national stock exchange of the Philippines. Currently, one of its two trading floors is located along Ayala Avenue right by the plush Ayala Triangle. The architectural landmark of Philippine commerce is one of the first buildings in the Makati Central Business District.
Trading in the Philippine Stock Exchange is a continuous session from 9:30AM to 3:30PM daily with a recess from 12:00PM to 1:30PM.
Greenbelt Shopping Center
Built around a massive 250,000 square meter retail complex, Greenbelt is every shopaholic’s haven with its five uniquely-designed malls, with pockets of Zen gardens and al fresco dining areas for a leisurely shopping experience. Each mall, labeled as Greenbelt 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, has its own highlights: from international luxury fashion brands, quaint boutique shops, local designer stores, and trusted gadgets and appliance centers. On evenings, Greenbelt transforms into a niche for the city’s riveting nightlife.
A manicured oasis tucked within a concrete jungle, the lush Ayala Triangle Gardens is a refuge from the city’s fast-paced urban lifestyle, having a diverse population of trees including kamuning, golden palms and fire trees. With its slew of restaurants and cafes for al fresco dining, the gardens started as a way to brighten up the workweek. Two out of three of the triangle’s surrounding streets, Makati Avenue and Paseo de Roxas, used to be airplane runways for the former Nielsen Field, Metro Manila’s main airport in the 30’s. Today, the vast greenery is used for jogging, people-watching and walks along the park.
Ayala Triangle is one of the world’s seven best places to see spectacular Christmas lights, according to Condé Nast Traveler. Every holiday season, the gardens come to life with a colorful spectacle of dancing lights synchronized to melodious Christmas carols. Families, couples, friends and business associates all come together for this immersive holiday experience.
Ayala Museum’s distinctive edifice is a tribute to the original building design by national artist Leandro Locsin. Its unique structure houses a cool breathing space for ethnographic and archaeological exhibits on Philippine culture, art, and history.
Among the museum’s highlights is its collection of archeological artifacts, notably the Gold of Ancestors: Pre-Colonial Treasures in the Philippines, which serve as a testament to the Filipinos’ rich ancestry and inherent craftsmanship. The museum also has on exhibition The Philippine Diorama Experience, visually narrating the many milestones of Philippine history through 60 handcrafted dioramas, some of which are featured in the international Google Art Project.
BONIFACIO GLOBAL CITY
Bonifacio Global City, also known as BGC and The Fort, is a dynamic financial and residential district in Manila, located between EDSA and C-5 road. What was once a base for the United States government later became Fort Bonifacio, named after the Father of Philippine Revolution. Today, it is a world-class center for the finest in modern living, dining and entertainment, with a robust nightlife for glamorous partyphiles worldwide.
Bonifacio High Street
A kilometer-long retail playground, the open-air Bonifacio High Street offers the best of high fashion and chef-based restaurants, with an urban amphitheater, interactive art pieces and talented street performers and buskers for an inspiring shopping experience.
SM Aura Premier
SM Aura Premier is an upscale shopping mall along McKinley Parkway. According to SM Prime, its name is derived from two elements, Au (gold) and radium, for “luxury and elegance that emanates from within”. With Hollywood celebrity Sarah Jessica Parker gracing the mall blessing in 2013, the development offers international fashion brands, al fresco bars and restaurants including The Todd English Food Hall, a 1,000-seat performance center called Samsung Hall, and the SkyPark, a multi-level green roof.
The mall is connected to the 29-storey SM Aura Office Tower which has an area of 40,424 sqm, home to one of the largest serviced offices in the Philippines, with 400 seats in a 20,000-square ft. office space. As part of Bonifacio Civic Center, the tower also houses several government offices such as Social Security System, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG Fund, Philippine Postal Corporation, and the Taguig City local government.
Launched in 1997, Eastwood City is a 17-hectare commercial and residential development with a vast variety of indoor and outdoor dining, shopping and recreational options designed for the entire family.
Within the complex is The Eastwood City Cyberpark, listed as an approved IT Center by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, a major advantage for export-oriented companies. It was an early leader in business process outsourcing in the country; developer Megaworld Corporation claims that the total number of jobs created in Eastwood City is more than 30,000, while the total value of exported services for the year was USD 348.31 million.
Intramuros: The Walled City
Intramuros (in Spanish, “within the walls”) is the oldest district Manila, and was the seat of government in the Philippines. The Walled City’s 64-hectare stone citadel was once the centerpiece of Spanish Manila. Here, tourists and locals alike ride on horse-drawn carriages, or what is known locally as the kalesa, to navigate the cobbled streets for a dose of Philippine history. Of the seven main churches that were located within its walls, only two remain: San Agustin Church, the oldest building in existence in Manila completed in 1607, and the Manila Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, which was reconstructed in the 1950s.
Cultural Center of the Philippines
Located in the cities of Pasay and Manila, the Cultural Center of the Philippines is the premier showcase of arts in the Philippines as it produces projects in music, dance, theater, visual arts, literature, cinema and design. Its eponymous 62-hectare (150-acre) complex is used as a venue for artistic programs including performances, festivals, exhibitions, cultural research and publication of materials on Philippine art and culture. It holds its headquarters at the National Theatre, a structure designed by National Artist for Architecture, Leandro V. Locsin.
Rizal Park, also known as Luneta National Park or simply Luneta, is one of the largest urban parks in Asia, and is one of the major tourist attractions of Manila. Located along Roxas Boulevard, adjacent to the walled city of Intramuros, it is an important site in Philippine history. The execution of national hero José Rizal on 30 December 1896 fanned the flames of the Philippine Revolution against the Kingdom of Spain. The area was officially renamed Rizal Park in his honor, and the monument enshrining his remains serves as the park’s symbolic focal point. The Declaration of Philippine Independence from the United States was held here on July 4, 1946.
National Museum of the Philippines
The National Museum of the Philippines is the repository and guardian of the Philippines’ natural and cultural heritage. Established in 1901 as an ethnography and natural history museum, and subsequently housed in its present building, designed by American Architect Daniel Burnham, the National Museum has since then broadened its concerns in the arts and sciences. Today, it occupies the main building (the former Old Congress Building) and the adjacent former finance building in the Agrifina Circle of Rizal Park.
Metropolitan Museum of Manila
Established in 1976, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila or simply “The Met” maintains permanent and temporary exhibitions of pre-colonial, modern and contemporary Philippine art, and is the first Philippine art institution to offer a bilingual and pedagogical program. Another first is the museum’s disability-sensitive program established in 2010 which provides tactile and sensorial content. The museum is responsible for the conservation of some of the country’s national treasures, such as pre-Hispanic gold and pottery artifacts — proof of a flourishing pre-colonial Filipino society actively engaged in international trade from the 8th to 13th centuries.