For an insightful crash course in Filipino culture and history, take a few hours to visit the engaging and compact Ayala Museum, for its permanent exhibits of traditional textiles, Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics, and ancestral gold collection (there are more than 1,000 pieces). Contemporary-art lovers won’t want to miss the works of 1960s Filipino abstract artist Fernando Zobel on the third floor, a highlight of the Ayala’s wide-ranging collection. For all its artistic achievements, the Filipino culture that expresses itself best through its cuisine, so continue your studies next door at M Café’s Kabila, with fresh, clean flavours and premium ingredients. Start with the addictive crispy kangkong—local water spinach that has been deep fried to crunchy heaven with a spicy vinegar dipping sauce. Try their atsuete and lemongrass basted chicken insala, cooked on a charcoal grill to the perfect juicy doneness. Here, traditional dishes are given an updated twist. For your final class, mingle with the style set at Greenbelt Mall’s Filipino Zone, lined with the boutiques of some of the country’s brightest designers. Pick up a striking hand-carved clutch or other bespoke bags at Aranáz, from the designing mother-daughter trio of Becky, Amina, and Rosanna Aranáz. Marvel at the contemporary spin on the traditional Maria Clara gown at Tan Gan—and if that gold exhibit at the Ayala Museum piqued your interest in shiny things, stop by Arnel Papa for hand-hammered gold earrings. Finally, pop into Kenneth Cobonpue’s showroom to admire his sculptural approach to traditional rattan craft and woodwork. Cobonpue’s much-sought-after furniture is sold internationally, so no need to fret over how to squeeze that daybed you’re lusting over in your suitcase.
It’s a 20-minute drive (40 to 60 minutes in rush hour) from the Conrad to the Ayala Center and the nearby Greenbelt Mall complex in Makati. Have the driver drop you off at the Ayala Museum; from there you can reach everything else by foot.
AYALA MUSEUM: Makati Avenue at De La Rosa Street, Ayala Center, Makati; +632-759-8288; ayalamuseum.org
M CAFÉ / KABILA: Greenbelt 4, Ayala Center, Makati; +632-757-3000; ayalamalls.com.ph
ARANAZ: Flipino Zone, 2nd floor, Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati; aranaz.phTAN GAN: Flipino Zone, 2nd floor, Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati;tan-gan.comARNEL PAPA: Filipino Zone, 2nd floor, Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati KENNETH COBONPUE MANILA: The Residences, San Lorenzo Tower (entrances at Esperanza Street or Arnaiz Avenue), Greenbelt, Makati; +632-576-1639; kennethcobonpue.com