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If your travelling to manila for work meetings and have only 2-3 hours available to see some of the city, what should you do. Here are some things that can help you start out and optimize your time. The timing presumes that you are booked in Makati, the main commercial-business district.
If your interest is shopping for local stuff to bring home and taste some local meals. Then go to SHOEMART (SM) beside Intercontinental Hotel and/or LANDMARK near Shangrila-Makati. Both have a good sized Pilipino native stuff. The best buys would be t-shirts (the country has some of the best designed t-shirts) that even locals wear, pina (pineapple fiber) shirts and loose cloth, mother of pearl plates, pearls (buy only from legitimate stores) , Nike branded Manny Pacquia athletic wear (a hit with the boxing fans), bracelets and accessories made of local beads, decorative mats, bags and art. For local liquor, get the Tanduary Rum 15 years (270P) and 12 years (170P); and for cigars the tabacaleras are also available in both SM and Landmark. Often foreigners say they just want to get some local stuff but end up shopping in the stores clothing sections picking up formal wear and dressy blouses and jeans. Shops open at 10am and close at 8pm except during Christmas season when shops are open till 10pm.
If you want to learn more about the culture and would like to fuse food with history, then go to the American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio before 5pm. Get a brochure from the center and walk along the park. It is the highest point in Metro Manila and you would be able to see the other parts of the metropolis from the center. It also houses military maps (made from tiles) of the Allied's attack strategy for liberating Asia Pacific. The names of the countries are still in their old forms so try to see how many old names you know. A trip to the American Cemetery will be about 45-60 mins. If you prefer the museum, go to the Ayala museum inside Greenbelt 5, when you enter get the audio recorder which is additional fee .... but really whats the point of entering a museum if your not going on an audio tour. After walking the park or the museum, proceed to the Glorietta or Greenbelt for dinner ---- the restaurant that is filled with people is the best or cheapest one. Most Filipinos eat at aroun 7:30pm.