Arts, design, and culture guide: Make your way around Makati

Here are some art and design spaces near Makati Diamond Residences that are worth checking out.


Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Art grows and thrives, it seems, on every street corner in Makati. It’s in the murals of the underground walkways along Ayala Avenue, the neon-drenched graffiti of Poblacion, the smallest doodles left behind in coffee shops and coworking spaces, and of course, the shape carved out in the skyline by the cityscape itself.

But the existence of art and design in Makati is most evident in the specialized spaces that have been established and maintained in the city over the last 50 years: galleries, museums, buildings, and more, envisioned to uphold the value of art in Philippine history — and our daily lives.

In the center of these spaces, easily accessible from one another, is Makati Diamond Residences. Located in Makati’s Central Business District, the luxury hotel is also in close proximity to the most exciting spots and sights in the city, from dining and shopping to business and entertainment — offering its guests not only relaxation, but also the best of Manila’s culture.

Through the hotel, itself a showcase of Filipino craftsmanship and design, you get to immerse yourself in movements and moments that will take your love of art to newer heights.

If you’re looking for places to start, below are some art and design spaces near Makati Diamond Residences that are worth checking out.

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CNN1-6918 (2).jpg The Ayala Museum features artefacts and information on Philippine history — from prehistoric times to the Spanish and American colonial periods. Photo by KENNETH ABALLA

Ayala Museum

The Ayala Museum was the brainchild of artist Fernando Zobel de Ayala, meant to be a museum of Philippine history and iconography, a vision that was realized upon its establishment in 1967. Now privately run by the Ayala Foundation, the museum is housed in a six-storey building of granite, steel, and glass designed by Leandro Y. Locsin, Jr. of Leandro V. Locsin Partners, and it holds ethnographic and archaeological exhibits on Philippine culture, art, and history. There is also the extensive Filipinas Heritage Library, as well as lectures and workshops on art and history for people of all ages.

The museum comprises a number of permanent and changing exhibits. On the second floor, there is the Diorama Experience, consisting of sixty handcrafted dioramas chronicling Philippine history, from prehistoric times to the Spanish and American colonial periods, culminating in a multimedia presentation on the People Power Revolution. Held in the same area is the Maritime Vessels exhibit, made up of several models of boats that were used in maritime trade.

The Gold of Ancestors exhibit on the fourth floor shows over 1,000 gold objects from 16th Century Philippines, including jewelry and symbols of affluence and status for the elite and their deities. A Millennium of Contact, meanwhile, is a display dedicated to Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics — evidence of strong ties between the Philippines and surrounding countries and the pre-colonial trading system. On the same floor are ethnographic exhibitions showcasing indigenous textiles from various communities and rare garments worn by Filipinos in the 19th Century, reflecting the fashion of the era.

The Ayala Museum is located at Makati Avenue corner Dela Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park, Makati.

CNN1-6937 (2).jpg Bellas Artes Outpost is the satellite space of the Bellas Artes Projects, which also has a free library open to the public through the day. Photo by KENNETH ABALLA

Bellas Artes Outpost

Bellas Artes Projects (BAP) was founded in 2013 by businesswoman and art patron Jam Acuzar in an effort to curate a contemporary art collection for Escuela de Bellas Artes, the oldest fine arts academy in the country, which can now be found in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan. Bellas Artes Outpost, its satellite space, serves as a platform through which traveling exhibitions (such as the works of the late artist Bruce Conner) and the works resulting from BAP’s artist-in-residence program can be more accessible to lovers of art in Metro Manila.

Designed by Claude Mark Wilson of the architectural firm WeDesign, the space pays tribute to the craftsmanship found in Bataan with wooden furniture and accents built by locals. A little bit of exploring leads you to a screening room, which shows short films that are part of the current show or offer a behind-the-scenes look at artmaking as a process and how the exhibit came together.

The outpost is also home to a free library that’s open to the public through the day, boasting a collection of 1,000 books and magazines on art, architecture, and design from Acuzar’s personal bookshelf and generous donations from friends and similar foundations dedicated to art. With approximately four exhibitions a year, Bellas Artes Outpost also offers talks and workshops — always with the goal of sharing their love of art and fostering growth and discovery.

Bellas Artes Outpost is located at 2F The Alley at Karrivin, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati.

CNN1-6964 (2).jpg Silverlens Galleries have had internationally renowned Filipino artists on its roster such as Martha Atienza, Gregory Halili, Maria Taniguchi, Ryan Villamael, Patricia Eustaquio, and Wawi Navarroza. Photo by KENNETH ABALLA

Silverlens Galleries

Since it opened in 2004, Silverlens has been breaking new ground after new ground and redefining what it means to be a space for art. Directors Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo pioneered situating a gallery in a warehouse along Pasong Tamo, and it’s an identity that they held close when Silverlens moved to a new space not too far from its original location.

The clean and minimalist space — with high ceilings and bright overhead lights that appear natural, which brightens the perspective and offers a fresh way to look at art — was conceptualized in collaboration with CS Architecture’s Anna Sy. It combines industrial and contemporary elements, from a lit staircase and large windows to bare walls and plain delivery trucks emblazoned with the Silverlens logo. With a main gallery, a smaller gallery, a private viewing room, a library, three small studios, and a workshop space, it’s also larger than their former space, making it versatile and able to hold both bigger and smaller exhibits. The effect is unassuming and intimate, but all the more welcoming.  

With internationally renowned Filipino artists on its roster, including Martha Atienza, Gregory Halili, Maria Taniguchi, Ryan Villamael, Patricia Eustaquio, and Wawi Navarroza, Silverlens has always been about giving art a venue to be transformative and seen in a whole new way. The gallery continues to be home to solo and group shows, at times combined, and works with international galleries to hold more exhibits from foreign artist — a continuous dialogue, according to Lorenzo, to bring the outside in.

Silverlens is located at 2263 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati.

Salcedo Auctions.jpg Salcedo Auctions is the only auction house in the country that specializes in important Philippine art. Photo by JL JAVIER

Salcedo Auctions

Art, fine jewelry, and other uncommon items that may be seen as luxurious aren’t just investment pieces. They are also things that carry a lot of history, heirlooms to be passed down for generations within your family. Art auctions, which may be seen as intimidating and perhaps dull, have become more accessible and exciting — thanks in no small part to Salcedo Auctions.

Established in 2010 and based out of Salcedo Village, Salcedo Auctions prides itself on being run with passion, integrity, and taste. It is the only auction house in the country that specializes in important Philippine art (including fine art and decorative art), fine jewelry and timepieces, rare automobiles, and other collectibles of historical and cultural significance. The sought-after and valuable pieces can be yours through competitive bidding, whether in person in various intimate venues (such as the Peninsula Manila) or on the phone, which puts quite the theatrical spin on the typical purchasing and acquisition process.

There’s also Gavel & Block, a subsidiary aimed at a more progressive and contemporary market covering diverse art and design in various forms and media and from different periods.

According to director Richie Lerma, the most rewarding part of auctions is the act of discovery with every item, the interesting stories and facts that have marked it and followed it in the many years before it reached the auction house. This year alone, a piece reported to be an 1884 boceto of Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium” was sold for a total of ₱73,584,000 — which Lerma says is “the highest price ever achieved at auction for a work by Juan Luna in his homeland.”

Salcedo Auctions is located at Unit 104-B, Ground Level, Three Salcedo Place, 121 Tordesillas Street, Salcedo Village, Makati.

CNN1-7010 (2).jpg Triboa Bay Living features original one-of-a-kind exports from Pampanga. Their furniture, lighting, and accent pieces are handcrafted and made of wood, combining classic sensibilities with contemporary tastes. Photo by KENNETH ABALLA

Triboa Bay Living at LRI Design Plaza

Standing at three stories, the LRI Design Plaza is a one-stop shop for pieces to make a house a home, from unique designer furniture to artisanal decor. It’s also home to offices of interior designers and architects, and a selection of restaurants to tide you over after an entire day of planning to change up and beautify your home.

A shop of note is Triboa Bay Living, where you can find original one-of-a-kind exports from Pampanga. Their furniture, lighting, and accent pieces are handcrafted and made of wood, combining classic sensibilities with contemporary tastes: comfy seats like couches and armchairs, inviting dining sets and tables, lamps, bookshelves, and other home accessories.

This is a brand with a fantastic and innovative approach to design, creating functional, organic, and stylish pieces and elevating basic furniture to become layered works of art. Certain collections encourage playing around with space — seats are given transformative features that allow them to adapt to your every whim and need, whether it’s becoming more compact or taking on a more interesting shape.

With their raw wood finish and earth tones paired with steel details, the pieces have a lived-in feel about them, radiating warmth and individuality. They are crafted with resort living in mind, and with dynamic figures and architecture that challenge tradition and think out of the box — plus some French and English country flair — every home could be a true sanctuary, and every day could feel like a vacation.

Triboa Bay Living is located at Suite 106, LRI Design Plaza, 210 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel-Air II, Makati.