Fourteen cities and three municipalities make up what is officially known as Metro Manila, referred to by most residents and visitors simply as MANILA, a massive, clamorous conurbation that covers 636 square kilometres and is home to almost 10 million people. To add to the confusion the old part of Manila – the area near the old walled city of Intramuros – officially remains the capital and seat of the Philippine government. In practice, the seats of government are all around Metro Manila, with the executive, administrative and judicial branches in Manila, the Senate in Pasay City and Congress in Quezon City.
At first sight Manila (in this book, the word refers to the whole conurbation) is intimidating: noisy, unkempt and with appalling traffic. There are few open spaces and only a handful of remarkable buildings. Signposting has improved in recent years, but is still woefully inadequate or misleading. Finding your way around is made even more difficult by the absence of significant modern or historical landmarks – most of the buildings are low concrete structures built in a hurry since the end of World War II. Skyscrapers have gone up in some of the business districts, but none is as notable as Hong Kong's Bank of China or Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers.
Manila has no proper city centre. To some Manileños, the central business district of Makati is the city centre, to others it might be Quezon City or the Roxas Boulevard/Manila Bay area. Each is a city in its own right. Roads run everywhere like capillaries, and suburbs act as connecting tissue between new centres of population. It is this apparent lack of order, though, that imbues Manila with character. Its flaws are what make the city human, giving it an anarchic charm that sweeps you along. Manila is also a city of striking emotional counterpoint. Frothy mansions belonging to tycoons and politicians fight for space with squalid shantytowns built along railway tracks. One of the problems Manila faces is the unceasing influx of provincianos, people from the provinces who believe the streets are paved with gold, most of whom end up squatting illegally on any spare scrap of land they can find. The fight for space is intensified by the city's apparently insatiable appetite for shopping malls.
To understand Manila completely, to get under its skin, you need a grasp of its complex and sometimes tragi-burlesque history. It has been razed by an earthquake, bombed, occupied, bombed again and rebuilt. It has expanded inexorably, but public services have not kept pace. The result is a rakish megalopolis that lives on its wits and maintains a frenetic pace 24 hours a day just so it can get things done. The roads are always busy and the buses always full, but in Manila you learn to go with the flow, never worrying about whether you'll be late or whether your taxi is going the wrong way down a one-way street. The Filipino maxim bahala na – what will be will be – applies as much to Manila as it does to life.
Despite its problems and troubled history, Manila is a sociable city, with a populace who take pride in their cultural affinities to the West and their embrace of all things American. Most tourists, however, use Manila as a transit point, a place to spend a day or two on the way to the islands and beaches of the south or the mountainous tribal areas of the north. A couple of days is all you really need to explore the key sights in and around Intramuros, the city's only notable historical enclave, its stone houses and grassy courtyards much as they were when the Spanish regime came to an end in the nineteenth century. If you've got a bit more time on your hands, take a wander through nearby Binondo – Chinatown – or head out of the city on a day-trip. There's plenty to see and do in the vicinity of the capital, from the Manila Bay island of Corregidor, a fascinating reminder of the horrors of war, to the rapids and waterfalls at Pagsanjan.
Manila also prides itself on the quality of its nightlife and the ability of its residents to kick up a good time. For many tourists, this will be their enduring memory of the place: funky bars and nightclubs in areas such as Malate and Makati whose attraction stems from their egalitarian nature. It doesn't matter who you are or what you are, you will have fun in Manila. All you have to do is take a deep breath and dive in.
Whenever Manila is mentioned, the speaker actually refers--sometimes unknowingly--to a vast conglomeration of 12 cities and five municipalities. Each is an autonomous political entity, but together functioning as one city called Metro Manila. Exploring this sprawling metropolis can be quite a daunting prospect even for its residents, but as a visitor you may rest assured that your stay will be most likely confined to certain areas, as outlined in this guide.
The Historic City
Intramuros , seat of government in Spanish colonial times, offers glimpses of Manilas historic past. A stroll through the 16th-century walled city takes you to such landmarks as Fort Santiago , San Agustin Church , Manila Cathedral and Casa Manila Museum . Each of these sites deserves to be visited individually, particularly if you are interested in culture. Attached to San Agustin Church, the Philippines' oldest church, the San Agustin Museum displays an astonishing array of artistic treasures.
Just outside Intramuros' walls lies Rizal Park where many important historical events have taken place, including the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal, a national hero. Rizal's death ushered in the Philippine Republic, Asia's first democracy. A light-and-sound presentation at the Site of Rizal's Execution renders a moving depiction of his courageous stand for freedom; the Rizal Monument enshrines his mortal remains as a symbol of Filipino nationhood. Nearby are other points of interest, such as the National Museum , National Library and Quirino Grandstand . The DOT Information Center fronts the National Museum, in a building marked Department of Tourism. At the other end of the Park stands The Manila Hotel , a landmark in its own right.
The Tourist Belt
Cutting through the western tip of Rizal Park is a broad boulevard stretching several kilometers past the US Embassy, Ramon Magsaysay Center , Manila Yacht Club, Central Bank of the Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines and Philippine Senate. This oceanfront esplanade, named Roxas Boulevard , runs through sections of Metro Manila (City of Manila, Pasay City and Parañaque City), and then turns inland toward Las Pinas City, home of the world's only Bamboo Organ. As you travel southward, a superb vista of Manila Bay , scene of famous naval battles and renowned for its magnificent sunsets, opens up on your right.
Around the boulevard are two districts traditionally known as Manila's tourist belt--Ermita and Malate. Both areas are packed with brand-new or renovated hotels, restaurants, cafes, antique shops, souvenir stores, travel agencies and the like. Robinson's Place is a huge shopping mall with just about everything you could ask for in terms of shopping, eating and entertainment. The fashionable set congregates after dark around Nakpil Street and Remedios Circle , a couple of blocks south of the mall. Further away lies Pasay City, which is known for its adult entertainment.
The Inner City
Facing the northeastern fringe of Rizal Park, you will notice a building with a clock tower—the Manila City Hall . This is where the Mayor of the City of Manila holds office and runs the affairs of such districts as Quiapo, Santa Cruz, Binondo and San Nicolas--all of which are situated further north across the Pasig River . The first three cities feature churches of great historical and cultural significance. Quiapo Church is the home of the Black Nazarene, a life-size image of Christ that has been the object of fervent veneration over centuries. Divisoria Market in San Nicolas sells everything under the sun, while gold and Chinese delicacies are the staple goods at the stores and stalls of Chinatown in Binondo. All four districts are part of the inner city and worth visiting for their fascinating local color and flavor, though the visitor should venture into them only in the company of a Filipino friend or a trustworthy guide.
Accessible from Rizal Park by Ayala Bridge lies another old district called San Miguel. Here Malacanang Palace , official residence of the President of the Philippines, and the Museo ng Malacanang are open to visitors on certain days. The palace grounds extend across the river into Malacanang Park. And on the south side of the river is the district of Pandacan. The Mabini Shrine is located here and is dedicated to the intellectual force behind the Philippine Revolution.
The Modern City
Going from the inner city to Makati is almost like a journey into another time. Ayala Avenue is lined with gleaming glass-and-steel skyscrapers that accommodate banks and offices. Two buildings particularly stand out on Ayala Avenue--the Philippine Stock Exchange Plaza and the Enterprise Center . Ayala Avenue culminates at Ayala Center , where everything revolves around Manila's premier mall, Glorietta . A showcase of the latest fashions, Ayala Center's central location allows the traveler to choose from a wide range of accommodations including deluxe hotels. Eateries and nightspots operate throughout the center as well as in the vicinity of Makati Avenue, Jupiter Street and Rockwell Center . Along tree-lined McKinley Road are Santuario de San Antonio , Manila Golf Club , Manila Polo Club —all within the wealthy neighborhood of Forbes Park —and the futuristic Global City.
Proceeding north from Makati on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), you will soon reach Ortigas Center , another dense concentration of high-rises including the Philippine Stock Exchange Center . Shops, restaurants and entertainment outlets abound at Shangri-La Plaza Mall , SM Megamall , Robinson's Galleria and El Pueblo & St. Francis Square . Ortigas Center sits where Pasig City, Mandaluyong City and Quezon City border each other. Though visible from here, Greenhills Shopping Center , Manila's equivalent of a flea market, belongs to the municipality of San Juan.
The Commuter Belt
A large percentage of commuters reside in the districts south of Makati. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the Centennial Terminal for Philippine Airlines flights are located in the area, along with duty-free shops and Nayong Pilipino Cultural Park , a theme park showing the country's main tourist spots. An hour's drive from here takes you to Taal Volcano and Lake , the worlds smallest volcano, and Tagaytay , a resort town celebrated for its cool breezes. A separate drive on the South Super Highway terminates in Laguna, a lush province dotted with hot springs at Pansol and Los Banos , and such day-tour destinations as The Enchanted Kingdom , Pagsanjan and Villa Escudero Plantation and Resort . On the way, you might want to drop in at Alabang in Muntinlupa City, where more malls ( Alabang Town Center , Festival Supermall , Metropolis Mall and SM Southmall ) and a manicured business center called Filinvest Corporate City await the visitor.
The Official City
A northbound drive on EDSA or a quick ride on the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) from Makati will take you to Cubao, the heart of Quezon City's commercial life. Araneta Coliseum , built in 1960 and once the world's biggest dome coliseum, dominates the skyline at Araneta Center. Further north, a monument towers over the Quezon Memorial Circle , around which several government agencies maintain offices, a reminder of the days when Quezon City was the official capital of the Philippines. Six long avenues radiate from the elliptical road encircling the memorial: one leads to the University of the Philippines and another to Batasang Pambasa, or House of Representatives. Large tracts of eye-soothing greenery, such as Ninoy Aquino Park & Wildlife , are scattered throughout the area.
Quezon Avenue stretches westward from the circle, joining with West Avenue and Timog Avenue to form yet another center of dining and nightlife. This long and almost straight road takes you all the way back to Quiapo in the inner city, though en route you may want to check out more landmarks such as Santo Domingo Church and the University of Santo Tomas , Asia's oldest institute of higher learning.
On the other hand, you may opt to go north to Marikina City, the Philippines' shoe-making capital, or Antipolo City, renowned as a place of religious pilgrimage and a hill resort interspersed with public swimming pools and sweeping views of Manila. Bars and eateries on Sumulong Highway, such as Cloud 9, stay open until the small hours of the morning, allowing you to enjoy the marvelous panorama both day and night.
Filipinos love eating—to the extent that many a foreign visitor has remarked: Don't Filipinos ever stop eating? Indeed, a Filipino's daily food intake comprises five meals: breakfast, morning merienda, lunch, afternoon merienda and dinner. And take note that a merienda is often more than just a snack, particularly the afternoon version. It can consist of goto (Filipino congee) and tokwa't baboy (crispy pork and bean curd dressed in vinegar and soy sauce) or Chinese mami (noodles in soup) and siopao (steamed bun with meat filling). In that context, it is no wonder Manila can call itself the D & D (dining and drinking) capital of Southeast Asia. In Manila one is not faced with a shortage of choices; the problem lies in selecting from the rather bewildering diversity.
Ermita and Malate
If you are in Ermita and Malate, start your search at the junction of Padre Faura Street and M. Adriatico Street with Kashmir Restaurant which serves delectable Indian curries. From here to Nakpil Street and Remedios Circle , the entire length of M. Adriatico is lined with eateries. On the corner of Pedro Gil Street stands Robinson's Place , which is packed with dining and drinking possibilities, including the mall's own Food Court where you can feast inexpensively in cool and comfortable surroundings.
Nakpil Street, formerly a wealthy residential neighborhood, abounds with houses and apartment buildings that have been converted into bars and restaurants. More than just purveyors of food, these act as trend setters of style. Bravo! mixes fashion with a full menu of Italian dishes. Matina, a restaurant cum art gallery, introduces you to imaginative fusion cuisine. Sala offers contemporary European food in a very stylish setting. People's Palace features tasty Thai food and tasteful minimalist decor. Casa Armas draws in discriminating diners with its black paella and other Spanish specialties. Episode Cafe and a dozen other places lure the young sophisticates with a thematic decor and the added attraction of live music, shows or dancing.
Another string of chic eateries can be found at the crossing of Nakpil and Maria Orosa Street: Pepe & Pilar (Filipino with a modern twist), Garlic Rose (everything is seasoned with the medicinal bulb), Cafe Breton (coffee and crepes) and Batavia (novel varieties of coffee, tea and cakes).
Around Remedios Circle, which is just a couple of blocks south of Nakpil, the creations of Larry Cruz, arguably Manila's most successful restaurateur, predominate, each with a theme of its own. Cafe Adriatico is known for Spanish-based Filipino food, while the other Cafe Adriatico 1900 is known for refined ambiance. Cafe Havana is notorious for its Cuban cooking and a Hemingway-inspired cigar room, In The Mood frequented for ballroom dancing, Bistro Remedios for regional Filipino delicacies, and Larry's Bar as a hip hangout.
Guernicas (traditional Spanish food), The Red Crab (crabs and steaks), and the delightfully naughty Kink Cakes (the concoctions will make some people's eyes pop out) are also in the vicinity, as are The Library (karaoke and stand-up comedy), and Portico (continental decor).
Around the corner, on A. Mabini Street, you will find a different set of places altogether, most notably the Hobbit House (a throwback to the '60s, featuring live music) and the Republic of Malate. The latter encompasses the popular Good Earth Tea Room (contemporary Chinese cuisine).
Not to be outdone by Ermita and Malate, Makati's Ayala Center is replete with its own array of dining and drinking places. Glorietta alone contains countless bars and restaurants, including globally known establishments like T.G.I. Friday's, Hard Rock Cafe and Fashion Cafe. Cibo delights patrons with pizza and pasta a la nouvelle cuisine. Furusato Japanese Restaurant is a dependable recommendation for those who fancy sushi, sashimi or sukiyaki.
Around Greenbelt Park and inside Greenbelt Mall, you will find, among others, Italianni's (American-Italian pasta, pizza, salads, etc.), Schwarzwalder German Restaurant (schnitzel, pork knuckles and the like), and Sugi (one of Manila's best Japanese restaurants).
Along Pasay Road, also known as Antonio S. Arnaiz Avenue, many international restaurants can be found, while around Jupiter Street and Makati Avenue lies a whole enclave where Japanese restaurants compete with Korean restaurants like Kaya Korean Restaurant . Casa Armas has a branch here and so do various Filipino restaurants. There is also a conspicuous Thai presence, as well as a plethora of girlie bars where many foreigners come to roost. Do not forget Grassi's at the nearby Rockwell Center —in some people's estimate, it serves the best food in Manila. And if you do not fancy any of the above, well, there is always fish and chips!
Dinner with a view? Try Top of the Citi on Paseo de Roxas. Something light and stylish? Wasabi Bistro and Bar on Makati Avenue. And even if you are dining on a budget, you can still do it with some style at the Glorietta 4 Food Court or the Food Park at the Enterprise Center .
Here the activity revolves around the giant malls. Some pubs await you at Shangri-La Plaza Mall like the popular Watering Hole Brewery (totally new innovation serving beer brewed in-house). In contrast, the Prince of Wales at Robinson's Galleria is terribly British, complete with dartboard and framed portraits of the royals. Here is a sampling of eateries at SM Megamall : Tong Yang Hot Pot (pick any or all of the meat and seafood items on display, then cook it at your table), Dad's (extensive buffet from California maki to roast turkey), Almon Marina (roast chicken and sandwiches, excellent for a quick lunch) and the cheap and cheerful SM Megamall Food Court.
At El Pueblo & St. Francis Square , just behind SM Megamall, you will find the likes of Flavors and Spices, a fine dining restaurant featuring a good-value Thai buffet. And if you are looking for somewhere just to have a round of drinks, there are such places as Strumm's. On the other hand, you might want to indulge in some French haute cuisine, in which case you could sample the inventive culinary preparations at Le Souffle.
Nearby Greenhills Shopping Center is dotted with all kinds of Chinese eateries. Bistro Lorenzo (another Larry Cruz restaurant) and Ciudad Fernandina Restaurant, both leaning toward Spanish food, are two alternatives to the predominantly Chinese selection. Cafe Ysabel, in an exquisite old house, is in a class of its own.
As the biggest of Metro Manila's 12 cities and five municipalities, Quezon City merits a D & D guide of its own.
The D & D row on E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, also known as C-5, ranges widely in theme and food: Grilla (Polynesian-style setting and flavorful reworkings of Filipino dishes), Aqua Zoo (European nouvelle cuisine served in an interior simulating a giant aquarium) and Outback Steakhouse (Down Under ambience and steaks).
On Katipunan Avenue, which is just around the corner from C-5, Dencio's and Katips stand out as two contrasting varieties of beer gardens. Likewise Cravings, with its intimate continental mood and modernized Western food, contrasts markedly with Kublai, which serves an eat-all-you-can Mongolian buffet in a large industrial-like hall.
From this guide you should get an idea of the tremendous variety of D & D options that Manila offers. But wait till you get here—you will find this guide barely scratches the surface.
TOUR 1: MANILA THEN
Intramuros , the heart of Manila from 1571 to 1898, offers an excellent introduction to the history and culture of Manila. Start your tour early in the morning when it is fairly cool and quiet, and make the Intramuros Visitors Center your first stop. Here, obtain as much information as you can and get copies of all the free maps, leaflets and brochures you can lay your hands on. The Visitors Center is located at the entrance to Fort Santiago , the seat of Spanish colonial power. Having paid the admission fee, you may then proceed to explore this centuries-old citadel.
From the Visitors Center, head north toward the fort's imposing triumphal gate. Named Rajah Sulayman Gate after the last pre-Hispanic king of Manila, it stands directly on the foundation of Rajah Sulayman's palisade. To get to the Gate, cross a small moat planted with water lilies—a beautiful sight as it reflects the rays of the rising sun.
Fort Santiago is steeped in history and contains within its inner sanctum the ruins of military barracks which have been converted into an open-air theater— Dulaang Rajah Sulayman . Pause here for a moment and picture in your mind plays like Shakespeare's Macbeth and Brecht's Mother Courage staged in this setting. If you happen to be in town during the annual season of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), it is certainly worth coming back in the evening to watch one of the dramatic company's memorable productions.
Continuing northward from the theater, you will come to some steps that will take you up to Baluarte de Santa Barbara, an elevated fortification with a bombproof powder magazine. From here you can discern the mouth of the Pasig River as it spills into the Manila Bay . Also visible is Jones Bridge , which leads into Binondo and Chinatown . If it is open, go down into the dungeon: it is said that prisoners were incarcerated here to drown in water that seeped through the walls.
Located right beside Baluarte de Santa Barbara, the Rizal Shrine will give you a further taste of the injustices of colonial rule. Dr. Jose Rizal was held captive in the building by the Spanish authorities prior to his execution on the morning of 30 December 1896. Here the great hero wrote his immortal Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell). Rizal's deeply moving paean to his beloved country is engraved on a bronze plaque on a wall by the shrines entrance.
Just outside Fort Santiago , you will see the dome of the Manila Cathedral . Walk toward this Romanesque church, which rises majestically over the ruins of five predecessors destroyed by earthquakes and war. As you enter the peaceful nave, take special note of the beautiful stained glass windows. The rosette stonework came from the fifth previous church, which was bombed in World War II.
In front of the Cathedral lies Plaza de Roma, the scene of raucous bullfights until it was converted into a garden in 1797. Two structures flank the square--the ruins of the Ayuntamiento and an eight-story building housing the Intramuros Administration . The grandest building in the whole of Intramuros, the Ayuntamiento was destroyed during the 1945 Battle of Manila, but there are plans to reconstruct the stately hall in its original design.
Though based on traditional architectural forms, the Intramuros Administration building was erected more than 20 years ago. It is, however, noteworthy as it stands on the site of the Palacio del Gobernador (Palace of the Governor), demolished by an earthquake in 1863. You can read about the sites history from the marker in front of the building, or visit the offices and library of the Intramuros Administration for more information.
About two blocks south, you will come to a cluster of historic sites, including Casa Manila Museum , San Agustin Church and San Agustin Museum . Casa Manila is part of the Plaza San Luis Complex, along with the Teatrillo San Luis (a small theater used for Intramuros Evenings and other cultural shows), antique and curios attractions such as Barbara's Restaurant and Hotel Intramuros de Manila. San Agustin Church and Museum are in a courtyard of their own across the street. It will take you at least an hour to tour Casa Manila and another hour, maybe more, to cover San Agustin. These places are major destinations, particularly if you are interested in history, art and culture.
At this point you might want to stop for lunch at Barbara's or Ilustrado , which is further down Calle Real (Gen. Luna Street). But if you can bear those hunger pangs, try completing your tour of Intramuros first. The Silahis Arts and Artifacts center, situated in front of Ilustrado, merits a visit for its wide display of native arts and crafts. In the same building you can find books and magazines related to the Philippines at Tradewinds Books , as well as antique prints at Chang Rong Gallery .
Continue along Calle Real until you hit the walls of Intramuros. One last stop is recommended at this junction: Puerta Real Gardens and Acuario de Manila . Visit the latter to observe some fascinating marine life displays and the interior of another Intramuros fortification. In the gardens you can see Puerta Real—the royal gate reserved for the governors use—and go up a section of the massive ramparts.
From here it is just a three-minute walk to the Manila Hotel along Padre Burgos Street, which becomes Katigbak Drive after traversing Roxas Boulevard . Turn left at Parade Avenue and go past the Quirino Grandstand . Soon you will arrive at the corner of South Boulevard. There are many restaurants to choose from, many with refreshing views of Manila Bay, one of which is Harbor View .
The rest of the afternoon can be devoted to museums, starting with the Museo ng Maynila and Children's Museum (Museo Pambata) , both located next to restaurants. A stroll through Rizal Park , which encompasses the restaurants and museums, will take you to other points of interest such as the Rizal Monument , the Site of Rizal's Execution , The Chinese Garden, The Japanese Garden and the National Museum . A look at Juan Luna's award-winning painting Spoliarium at the National Museum (Old Congress Building) presents a good way to cap your tour.
TOUR 2: MANILA NOW
Start your tour at the Ayala Center in Makati City. If you are booked into one of the hotels in the vicinity, such as The Peninsula Manila , Makati Shangri-La , Hotel Inter Continental , Dusit Hotel Nikko and New World Renaissance Hotel , just amble down to the Center from the hotel. If you are lodged around Jupiter Street and Makati Avenue, you will probably need to take a taxi, though the distance can be covered by a brisk 15-minute trot. If you are staying on Roxas Boulevard or in the Ermita and Malate area, find out if there is an LRT (Light Rail Transit) station nearby. If so, take the line to EDSA station and then change to the northbound MRT (Metro Rail Transit), which will deposit you right at Ayala Center (MRT station: Ayala).
Inaugurated in the 1960s, the Ayala Center (formerly Makati Commercial Center) has spearheaded the ongoing modern development of Metro Manila. The most logical starting point of your tour is Glorietta , a showcase of the latest in style and fashion. Glorietta runs the whole gamut of commercial establishments, from local to foreign brands. Here is a sprinkling of names, some of which you will no doubt recognize: Warner Bros. Studio Store, Guess, Swatch , Tower Records , Regalong Pambahay , Gallery of Prints , and Pointe East Gallery . Rustan's Department Store rules the Ayala Avenue end of this sprawling mall. Remember to drop by the visitors' information counter beside the central atrium to obtain a free map and a special visitors' discount card.
For your mid-morning cup of coffee, drop in at Starbucks (next to the Makati Shangri-La) or one of its local competitors such as Figaro , located in the mall. For a dose of history, art and culture, head for the Ayala Museum . To get there, take the pedestrian overpass by The Landmark and cross to the other side of Makati Avenue. The museum is best known for its dioramas depicting the Philippines' historical and cultural evolution, but there are also changing exhibits in the lobby and two separate galleries. The museum shop is an excellent source of arts and crafts.
Right behind the museum lies a patch of soothing greenery— Greenbelt Park . You can enjoy a naturally wholesome lunch at The Source Cafe, around which the Organic Producers Market unfolds every Tuesday and Saturday. But if you prefer a regular lunch, there is a wide variety of eateries to choose from: Schwarzwalder German Restaurant, Flavours and Spices, Sugi , and The Cafe Mediterranean, to name but a few.
After lunch, you could browse through the shops at Greenbelt Mall. Drop in at National Bookstore if you wish to pick up some reading material, or at Crabtree & Evelyn for toiletries. Take the Paseo de Roxas exit of the mall, then walk up the street to the corner of Ayala Avenue, where you will see The Enterprise Center , a Techno Deco landmark of modern-day Manila. The Philippine Stock Exchange Plaza , another impressive example of contemporary architecture, is just around the corner on Ayala Avenue.
Continue eastward on Ayala Avenue (you will pass The Peninsula Manila, Makati Shangri-La and Ayala Center) until you come to Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Cross over to McKinley Road, a lovely thoroughfare shaded by the spreading branches of old acacia trees. Santuario de San Antonio , Forbes Park , the Manila Golf Club and Manila Polo Club line this private road. It is a bit of a walk, but if you go to the top of the street, you will find the American Cemetery —a memorial to the past—and Global City, a vision of the future.
From the Ayala Center, take the northbound MRT and get off at either Shaw or Ortigas station. This will deposit you at Makati's rising rival— Ortigas Center . Close to Shaw station stands Shangri-La Plaza Mall , where two popular department stores- Rustan's Tower and Crossings —await you, along with the malls own assortment of eating and entertainment outlets. Ripley's Believe or Not Museum is on the fifth level as is the William J. Shaw Theater . The Edsa Shangri-La , behind the mall, offers deluxe accommodations.
There are two other malls at Ortigas Center: SM Megamall and Robinsons Galleria . Expect more shops and eateries at both malls, though you might want to check out the SM Ice Skating Rink and Megatrade Hall & Conference Center at the former and Octagon Computer Superstore at the latter.
Conclude your tour with a visit to EDSA Shrine , birthplace of People Power, just outside Robinsons Galleria, before heading back into the mall for a movie and/or refreshments. Of course, you could always go for a heavy dose of art and culture at the nearby Meralco Theater , where ballets, classical concerts and musicals are staged regularly.