At the strike of 5pm, the streets of this city buzzes into activity. People from different parts of Metro Manila hurriedly walks along its sidewalks towards different transport terminals where they can take vans or buses going home. The city is a melting pot of a workforce that serves as the backbone of the country’s premier financial center - Makati City.
The humble beginning of this city stands along the banks of the Pasig River when a Spanish-mestizo, Capitan Pedro de Brito, acquired a marshland through public auction that would become San Pedro de Macati. Its location is so ideal that the Spaniards established two pilgrimage sites that can easily be accessed through the Pasig River - the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and the San Pedro de Macati Church. It was in 1851 that Don Jose Bonifacio Roxas, an ancestor of the Zobel-Ayala, purchased the hacienda that led to its development to what is today.
Makati City is the premier business hub of the country. Most of the top businesses and corporations have offices located within its boundaries. Walking along Ayala Avenue,its main artery, one can get a feel of its progressive city vibe. I am back to #ExploreManila and Makati is today’s agenda.
St. Peter and Paul Parish Church, Poblacion
Originally referred to as San Pedro de Macati Church, it is a mute witness to the humble beginnings of this city. The church stands as one of the intact Spanish-period churches in Metro Manila and it is the oldest church in the city.
Built in 1620, its architecture reflects that of the Spanish colonial mission churches. Its facade bears the symbol of the papacy and is flanked by it belfry on the right. A sculpture of St. Paul and St. Peter, its patron saints, welcomes the faithful when they enter the courtyard.
Its interior has a cool mix of the old and the new. Its walls have been furnished with a modern look while its ceiling is eye-catching with its murals. What stands out is it three-tiered retablo with the image of the Virgen dela Rosa de Macati as its highlight. The church has become its home since it was brought here by the Jesuits in 1718 from Acapulco.
It is amazing how the church stands out with its Spanish-period architecture in the midst of a bustling community. It has been a refuge of the faithful on this side of the city.
Makati City Museum
A few minutes walk towards the Pasig River brings you to an American-period structure along JP Rizal Street. The building served as a townhall, an infirmary, and a library before it was turned into a repository of Makati City’s rich history.
The structure was built in 1918 and was designed with a “bahay-na-bato” architecture. It served as a town hall from 1918 to 1961. The century-old structure is now a museum that houses the city’s historical records, artifacts, and rare collection of pictures of the city.
The Museo ng Makati stands along the banks of the Pasig River. A park was installed along the banks where you get a good view of the Pasig River and and Mandaluyong City.
Nuestra Senyora de Gracia Church
Tucked within the Guadalupe area is another Spanish-period church that is a popular venue for weddings in Metro Manila. The church was established as a pilgrimage center and has attracted the faithful during the Spanish period even until today. Interestingly, the Nuestra Senyora de Gracia Church was able to retain its charm through the centuries.
I was swept off my feet when I first laid my eyes on the church. Its mix of baroque and renaissance architecture, with the warm afternoon shade of the setting sun, was a perfect way to see the beauty of the church. It is picturesque! No wonder it is a favorite wedding venue.
Unlike the St. Peter and Paul Parish, the interiors of the Nuestra Senyora de Gracia Church is void of the flair and fancy. Its interior is simple with a retablo, with the image of the Nuestra Senyora, as its main centerpiece. The church is a classic beauty to admire.
Ayala Triangle and Ayala Avenue
Ayala Avenue is the main artery of Makati extending from EDSA to Gil Puyat Avenue. At the center of the avenue’s hustle is a green open space - the Ayala Triangle.
Here is a quick trivia of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas - it served as the runways of the first gateway of Metro Manila. It was on this location that the first Philippine Airline took off for Baguio City. After it was decommissioned as an airport, the runways were extended and developed to become Makati’s main roads.
Ayala Triangle is an open-space park at the heart of the business district. Bounded by Ayala Avenue, Paseo de Roxas, and Makati Avenue, the triangle is a green space that is frequented by people who wants to enjoy a bit of green from the concrete jungle. The apex of the triangle features the monuments of Ninoy Aquino and Filipino heroes Gabriela Silang and Lapu-Lapu. There are restaurants in the area that caters to the lunch time and weekend crowd. And if you want a more intimate dinner, you can check out Blackbird Makati along Makati Avenue. The restaurant now occupies the first-ever airport passenger terminal in Manila.
The Christmas season gives Ayala Triangle an extra holiday feel. It is the venue of the much-anticipated “Festival of Lights” - a 20-minute lights and sound show that features favorite Christmas tunes. The show is designed by award-winning directors and it is watched by thousands during its seasonal run.
Glorietta / Greenbelt Malls
One of the first malls in Metro Manila, Glorietta and Greenbelt have changed its landscape over the years. Glorietta has experienced an explosion and a coup attempt but it has survived to become one of the most popular malls in the Metro Manila.
Greenbelt mall is one of the first green malls in the country that has managed to combine urban and green architecture. It has an open-space park in the middle of the mall that also features artistic sculptures. At the center of the mall is the Sto. Nino de Paz Greenbelt Chapel - one of the churches in the metro with a simple and amazing architecture.
Washington Sycip Park
Makati is a concrete jungle that has successfully incorporated green spaces in some parts of the business district. The Washington Sycip Park is one of these green spaces and leveled it up by making these green spaces as venues for artistic creativity.
The park is great place to just relax and chill out before heading back to your workload. It has spots in the park that showcases visual art forms that one can appreciate while enjoying the green space the park offers. My personal favorite is the Crane and Turtle Garden - a Japanese Zen Garden in the middle of busy Makati.
Salcedo Saturday Market
Weekends give Makati City a different feel. It allows the city to breathe as most of its sidewalks are void of the usual working crowd. But weekends are also a good time to discover some of the great finds of its weekend market.
The Salcedo Saturday Market is one of this pop up weekend flea markets that is worth checking out. From fresh farm produce to freshly baked breads, there is something worth bringing home. Lest I forget, it is also a great place to get your tummy filled on a Saturday.
Located at the RCBC Plaza, the Yuchengco Museum is one of the museums that really highlights the legacy of Gat Jose Rizal. The four floors of the museum is both a repository of the family’s heirloom. A gallery is dedicated to give its guests a look at the humble beginnings of the family and how they made a name in business and in politics.
One could also see how the Yuchengcos give high regard to Jose Rizal. The gallery, honoring the hero, gives you a more personal approach to Rizal as a person. Replicas of his scribbled notes, personal artifacts of the hero and the people close to him, and the books that he has written gives its guest a better understanding of Rizal.
But the Yuchengco is not just about history, its other galleries feature arts in different forms - paintings, sculptures, photography, and urban architecture. I enjoyed the floating zen rock garden where pebbles of different sizes are suspended in the air. One of its galleries aso feature urban photography and architecture.
The Yuchengco Museum is a must place to visit if you happen to find yourself in Makati. It gives you a learning space in a relaxed vibe.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Metro Manila is a metropolitan area that has pockets of its rich history in the midst of its urban architecture. For most of us, residents, we may have come along this historical sites but we really did not pay much attention as we have gotten used to seeing it everyday. The same goes for Makati. It is a city that goes through the daily humdrum of a financial center and, with it, are the stories of its colorful past.
From a hacienda to a bustling central financial district, Makati City has gone a long way. It has been a mute witness to the fight for Philippine Independence and has played a major role in the birth of commercial aviation in the country. It has managed to keep its old charm in small pockets within its urban jungle. And it is in these pockets that we realize that every great story starts with a humble beginning.
Getting there: On can take the MRT and go down at Ayala Avenue MRT Station to get to Makati.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.