I had the pleasure of staying at Shangri-La Makati. It is literally in the center of everything you could possibly want to get to, right in the heart of Makati. It's a hop and a skip to Rustan's Department Store (where they have a Rafe corner) and a few blocks away from Greenbelt 5 Mall where all the best boutiques, luxury labels and restaurants are.
I love Carlos Celdran's Walk This Way walking tour of Intramuros (old Manila). He's funny, factual and flamboyant. I've learned more about our history in just a few hours with him than I ever did reading about it in school. He puts everything in context and doesn't mince words about our colorful colonial past. Next time I come back I'm going to take his Imelda Tour. I've heard it's hilarious and full of outrageous stories!
M Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants in Manila. You can't go wrong with their take on traditional Filipino cuisine, whether you're there for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Some of my favorites include Pansit Buko (coconut strip 'noodles'), Pansit Tinta (rice vermicelli with squid ink sauce), Halaan (clam soup) and desserts like Leche Flan Turon (fried banana spring rolls with custard filling) and Jackfruit Sans Rival. If M Cafe is too full, just go to their adjoining restaurant, Kabila, which literally means "other side".
The Ayala Museum is a must if you're already in Manila. When I was a child I used to love going to see the dioramas they have depicting the history of the Philippines. One of the most inspiring exhibits I've seen at the museum was Gold of Ancestors: A staggering collection of pre-colonial gold objects and jewelry.
WHAT I LOVED MOST
Manila is my second home! As soon as I land and text a friend, it turns into a domino effect! Before I know it my schedule is completely filled for breakfast, lunch and dinner with all of my friends. Every occasion revolves around food, especially all of the comfort food I can't seem to get enough of whenever I'm back - you'd think I was a starving orphan!