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WATCH: Virtual tour of Makati CBD's art, culinary gems |

Travel and Tourism

WATCH: Virtual tour of Makati CBD's art, culinary gems

Marane A. Plaza -

MANILA, Philippines — Makati City's central business district (CBD) has been known for its hustle and bustle, upscale edifices and general business vibe. 

With everything it offers, Makati CBD truly presents Filipinos and expats alike a one-of-a-kind urban experience. It's unthinkable how this business and lifestyle capital was also once an idle grassland.

But amid the current urban chaos of the city, there exist legendary art pieces, historical landmarks, wellness havens and relaxing greeneries. With a closer look and an open mind, Makati CBD is easily a tourist destination worthy of our time and effort to be explored.  

The transformation over the years would never be possible without Col. Joseph McMicking's visionary master plan for this land, and the help of Don Alfonso Zobel de Ayala. More importantly, the commitment of the current business leaders is admirable, as they continue to unlock the district's potential.

For the first time ever, Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) in support to the Makati Central Estate Association Inc.(MACEA), the association of property owners within CBD, hosted an exclusive media tour for the appreciation of the architecture, art and heritage that are turning this golden quadrant along Ayala Avenue into a dynamic, ever-evolving community that it is today. The architecture, art and heritage that define the premier district are showcased in the coffee-table book by MACEA.

Here are some noteworthy spots in Makati CBD available around this well-planned, pedestrian-oriented district that truly deserve our appreciation:

Ayala Triangle

The verdant and vibrant Ayala Triangle, where the iconic Tower One and Exchange Plaza are located, is right at the heart of Makati CBD.

The former home of the Philippine Stock Exchange and the headquarters of Ayala Group, it is also home to some of the important works of celebrated Filipino artists. Three works of art should not be missed: a painting by Ang Kiukok, a piece by Impy Pilapil, and a wall art at the mezzanine by Arturo Luz.

Tower One is surrounded not only by the open space and greenery (and thousands of lights during Christmas) in Ayala Triangle Gardens, but also by history.

In a courtyard a few steps away from the Plaza Fountain is the special weathered steel memorial for Col.Joseph McMicking and Mrs. Mercedes Zobel-McMicking. Col. McMicking, together with Enrique Zobel, Alfonso Zobel de Ayala and Jaime Zobel de Ayala, are the four visionaries who are credited for their significant contributions to the development of Makati's financial district.

Another historical location that you can find in Ayala Triangle is the Nielson Tower, which is the former air control tower of the country's first commercial airport. It's now home to Blackbird, one of the must-try dining destinations in the country that offers eclectic menus inspired by the aviation history of the building.

Move toward Paseo de Roxas to see the bronze Ninoy Aquino Monument by sculptor Peter de Guzman, which serves as a reminder of everything that the former senator and Filipino hero Benigno "Ninoy" S. Aquino Jr. fought and died for.

Legaspi Village

The charming tree-lined streets of Legaspi Village are often considered as a sanctuary in the middle of the city with its fusion of amazing restaurants and jogging parks. Brimming with hip and unique restaurant concepts, the area excites every foodie and wellness aficionado.

The new, stylish Filipino restaurant Tatatito and the traditional multi-course Japanese resto Kyo-to are in Palanca Street. In Rada Street, you can take someone special to Japanese-Peruvian resto Nikkei, or enjoy some familiar Filipino dishes offered in Sarsa.

Go on a food adventure and get a taste of Indonesian cuisine from Restoran Garuda in Salcedo Street, or some north Indian culinary delights from Mantra in Bolanos Street. You can also find some of the metro's best cafes in Legaspi Village, like Antipodean Café and Yardstick. There is also Curator Coffee and Cocktails, which doubles as a bar after dark, as well as Bad Café.

On Sunday mornings, Legaspi Village plays host to the Legaspi Sunday Market where residents in the area shop for fresh organic produce and crafts, and relish homemade local and international food.

Apart from being a foodie hotspot, Legaspi Village is also loved for its Legaspi Active and Washington SyCip parks, which are usually filled with joggers and dog walkers, especially after work hours. Situated right beside each other, the parks feature indigenous tropical trees and plants, benches, tiled walkways, jogging paths and washrooms. The Washington SyCip Park has a Japanese garden and gazebos, while Legaspi Active Park has a children's playground.

Salcedo Village 

Known for its towering commercial, residential spaces and parks with greeneries, Salcedo Village is a place where anyone can easily mix business with pleasure.

One of its landmarks is the Jaime C. Velasquez Park, or commonly referred to as Salcedo Park. The home of the annual outdoor visual fair "Art in the Park" and the weekly "Salcedo Sunday Market," this communal green space in Makati CBD has been recently renovated to add more amenities, including a dog park to better serve those working and living nearby.

With a growing community of young professionals, artists and families, this neighborhood also boasts of having a roster of restaurants that excite every palate. It's home to the charming and cozy Spanish resto Pablo near the Salcedo Park, comfort food bistros like The Wholesome Table in H.V. Dela Costa and L.P. Leviste streets, and the popular Japanese ramen resto Mendokoro Ramenba in Soliman Street.

Ayala Avenue

Ayala Avenue is not only one of the busiest roads in the metro. It is also historic, with its stunning skyscrapers that shape the Makati skyline. In Paseo de Roxas, Insular Life was built as the first skyscraper in Makati in 1962 by the renowned architect Cesar Concio.

Also along this avenue is RCBC Plaza that houses the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium and the Yuchengco Museum.  There's Ayala North Exchange in the corner of Salcedo Street, which is turning into a creative hub that has its very own green wall that serves as natural air filters.

The Manila Peninsula hotel and its majestic fountain remain to be one of the architerctural gems of the country. Then, there's the Apartment Ridge, home to the first condominiums in Makati. And finally at the corner of Ayala Avenue and EDSA, there stands One Ayala that's being developed to offer office towers, hotel and serviced apartments, retail spaces and Makati's future transport hub — all connected to the Ayala Center, a major commercial space covering shopping malls like Glorietta and Greenbelt, department stores and hotels.

New buildings are also expected to rise soon to redefine the Makati skyline, and this includes Tower Two, which will soon become the new home of the beloved Mandarin Hotel.

Ayala Museum

A guide to Makati CBD will never be complete without a mention of the Ayala Museum, whose collection focuses on Philippine history and iconography.

Some of the collection highlights include paintings by Juan Luna and Fernando Zobel and objects that give a glimpse on pre-colonial Filipinos' way of life. It also features a digital gallery at the lobby, which enables visitors to explore the collections in the museum and have an interactive experience on art and history.

MACEA is lifting pages off from its newly published coffee table book, "Makati, Fifty Years and Forward," as they based the tour on this book. The hefty 300-page book features essays from the author and project director Lisa Guerrero Nakpil on how Makati thrived to become one of the country's premier addresses, as well as new images of the city by legendary photographers Wig Tysmans, Patrick Diokno and Paul Quiambao. There are also never-before-seen pictures of the Makati CBD master plan and its development through the years.

Ayala Land Inc. is the main catalyst in developing then Hacienda Makati into one of the country's important districts.  — Photos, video by Deejae Dumlao

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