Lo­cally born ar­chi­tect and de­signer James J.J. Acuna shares his fa­vorite spots in the ever-evolv­ing Philip­pine cap­i­tal.


Manila ac­cord­ing to de­signer and ar­chi­tect James J.J. Acuna.

EAT Tucked in­side a cre­ative com­plex on the edge of Makati,

Toyo Eatery (­oeatery) serves ex­cel­lent Filipino fare by chef Jordy Navarra, who presents lo­cal fla­vors and in­gre­di­ents in el­e­vated ways—his Ba­hay Kubo ‘salad’ com­bines all 18 veg­eta­bles men­tioned in a pop­u­lar Ta­ga­log folk song of the same name. Two other great spots are Grace Park (­cepark­din­ing) for its farm-to-ta­ble com­fort food by Margarita Forés, crowned Asia’s Best Fe­male Chef in 2016; and

Hey Hand­some (­some come), where South­east Asian dishes are rein­ter­preted through the lens of chef Nicco San­tos. I love the lamb buah keluak and al­ways or­der beet­root pa­neer on the side.

SHOP Aphro (­liv­ing) is Manila’s top con­cept store, sell­ing art­work and home items by mostly Filipino tal­ents. Price points vary, but there’s some­thing for ev­ery­one look­ing for a one-of-a-kind gift. For Filipino fash­ion, stop by Rajo! ( ra­jo­lau­— it’s the ate­lier­cum-show­room of one of the Philip­pines’ lead­ing de­sign­ers— or Tropa ( tropa­s­, which show­cases lo­cal brands with a fo­cus on mod­ern, min­i­mal­ist at­tire and low-im­pact pro­duc­tion meth­ods.

DO Ex­plore the city’s walled Span­ish-colo­nial dis­trict on an In­tra­muros tour with per­for­mance artist Car­los Cel­dran ( car­loscel­dran

walks.word­, whose the­atri­cal ap­proach to his­tory pro­vides a nu­anced look at why the coun­try is the way it is to­day. Ar­chi­tec­ture buffs should check out the bru­tal­ist Na­tional Theater ( cul­tur­al­cen­ at the Cul­tural Cen­ter of the Philip­pines, one of the great­est achieve­ments of cel­e­brated ar­chi­tect Le­an­dro V. Loc­sin; do take the guided tour to fully ad­mire the sweep­ing curves of poured-in-place con­crete and capiz-shell chan­de­liers hung from the gold-leafed ceil­ing. Fi­nally, the clus­ter of gal­leries around Chino Ro­ces Av­enue— Silverlens ( sil­ver­lens­gal­, Bel­las Artes Out­post ( bel­lasartes, and The Draw­ing Room ( draw­ingroom­ —pro­vides a glimpse into the city’s bur­geon­ing con­tem­po­rary art scene.

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