Makati, 5km east of Manila Bay, was a vast expanse of malarial swampland until the Ayala family, one of the country’s most influential business dynasties, started developing it in the 1950s. It is now Manila’s premier business and financial district, chock-full of plush hotels, international restaurant chains, expensive condominiums and monolithic air-conditioned malls, easily accessible via Ayala MRT station.
Opposite the station, the biggest mall is Glorietta, which has a central section and side halls numbered 1–5, and heaves with people seeking refuge from the traffic and heat. A short walk from Glorietta to the other side of Makati Avenue is Greenbelt Park, a landscaped garden with the pleasant, modern, white-domed Santo Niño de Paz Chapel in the centre. The park forms part of Makati’s other main mall, Greenbelt, which, like Glorietta, is divided into various numbered halls; on the north side is the excellent Ayala Museum.
Just to the north is the pleasant green swathe of Ayala Triangle, bordered by Ayala Avenue, Paseo de Roxas and Makati Avenue. On the southeast corner facing Makati Avenue, the Filipinas Heritage Library (t02/892-1801, wwww.filipinaslibrary.org.ph) is an interesting little piece of history: it was Manila’s first airport terminal, the Art Deco Neilson Tower, built in 1937 (Paseo de Roxas, the road to the north, was built where the runway used to be). Inside there’s a bookshop that runs various literary-themed workshops. Further along Ayala Avenue, at the junction with Paseo de Roxas, is the Ninoy Aquino Monument, built in honour of the senator who was assassinated in 1983, while a block further on, the shimmering PBCom Tower (259m) at 6795 Ayala Ave is the tallest building in the Philippines (closed to the public).