This city was utterly decimated during the month-long Battle of Manila in World War II—which made its post-war comeback even more impressive. During the mid-20th century the rebuilt and revived metropolis topped global jetsetters’ lists. Glamorous private compounds hosting daily cocktail parties on manicured lawns were all the rage. You can get a glimpse of the era at the 2680 Harrison Street Compound, wandering through a gorgeously refurbished mid-century mansion adorned with space-age sputnik pendant lamps and mixed-media pop art. Drop by A-11, local designer Eric Paras' concept and retail store that is all about inspired eclectic style of living placed in a heritage house setting. Right next door is Avellana Art Gallery, known for discovering emerging contemporary Filipino artists, such as the late Naïve artist Tatang Bermudez. Bermudez left behind a massive body of work documenting daily life in the rural province of Negros Occidental. If you’re looking to make a fashion statement, don’t miss Jojie Lloren’s Atelier. Peruse his precise and sculptural ready-to-wear, or be fitted for a custom gown; the turnaround for the latter is about two weeks, and the atelier can arrange to have your frock shipped overseas.
The 2680 Harrison Street Compound is just under a mile from Conrad Manila, and should take only 10 minutes to reach by taxi or hotel car. Factor in an additional 10 or 20 minutes during peak hours (such as late afternoon). Traffic should be lightest around noon or right after lunch.