If you are visiting Manila, on business or leisure, and only have a view hours to look around, there is no better place to go than the Ayala Museum in Makati, the financial district of Manila. The museum is conveniently located in the Greenbelt mall, with plenty of stores and restaurants to visit before or after.
When visiting a foreign country, I usually try to visit the National museum or a history museum to get an idea of how a country views itself and its history. It is fascinating to me to learn about a country that way, as often enough what was taught in your school is quite different than what you will see. The Ayala Museum is a great place to learn about Philippine history.
One of the permanent exhibits is called “The Diaroma Experience”. The exhibit shows 60 events from prehistoric Philippines to Independence in hand-carved and painted scenes, with short descriptions. A multi-media exhibits shows the time all the way to the People Power revolution in 1986. You can get an overview of Philippine history, its key events and important players in only 90 minutes. It’s very informative and moving story of what shaped the Philippines you are visiting today. And it’s one of the easiest to digest histories I have seen in museums around the world! Even if you don’t like museums, this one is worth checking out to learn more about the Philippines.
My second favorite exhibit at the Ayala museum is the “Gold of our Ancestors” – it’s a fascinating display of golden artifacts from the long history of the country, and would be impressive anywhere. There are also exhibits of textiles and maritime vessels and changing exhibits. You can get an idea of the exhibits currently on display at the Ayala Museum website. A selection of Diaroma is also featured on the Google Art Project here. If you have a little more time, you can rent an Audio guide at the museum for more background information. The full entrance fee is PHP425, with discounts for residents, seniors and students.