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Key to the City

All of the Delicious and Design-y Reasons to Head to Manila, Philippines

Key to the City BY courtney conway 04/02/2019


When Ella Lim isn’t in New York running Verloop, her poppy line of color-block scarves, poofy pillows, and snuggly beanies, you’re almost guaranteed to find her in Manila. Home to her family’s knitwear factory, it’s full of hidden gems—so many of which Ella has unearthed and is very willing to share.




“When buyers are in town, my go-to spot for dinner and entertaining is here. Hailed as one of the best restaurants in Asia, Toyo serves up modern Filipino food in a sophisticated yet warm and inviting atmosphere. The menu features Filipino dishes I grew up eating but elevates those everyday flavors to something more complex and inspired. Service is never rushed and is very professional. Wash down your meal with delicious cocktails made from indigenous Filipino spirits. It’s the perfect place for foreigners to receive a primer on Filipino cuisine. My guests always leave gushing about the food and the wonderful time they all had.”


Verloop pompompillow 1
Cactus Flower Pom Pillow
30 OF A KIND .
$ 150


Do Things


“When I want to take a break from work at the factory, I head over here. Founded by one of the Philippines’s premier art collectors, this secluded museum houses one of the best private collections of Philippine contemporary and native art. The museum’s open-air galleries are on beautiful landscaped grounds spread over a network of whitewashed buildings, some with views of Manila. Its calm and refreshing atmosphere makes the museum the perfect place to get inspired while enjoying art and nature.”  



“Toyo Eatery is located inside this alley, which is an oasis for contemporary art and design in the middle of the Makati business district. Make sure you arrive well before dinner to visit the unique shops and galleries located here. Shop for unique home and personal accessories at Aphro and Lanaior and catch a contemporary art exhibit at the Drawing Room Gallery or a film screening at Bellas Artes Project next door.”



“For more retail therapy and inspiration, I always head here. Tucked away in a corner storefront in the upscale Greenbelt Mall complex is this well-curated and eclectic design shop. Guava Sketches carries a wide selection of products from stationery, T-shirts, books, and posters to home accessories and furniture (including local favorite E. Murio furniture and Verloop’s all-over pom pillows!). No commercial design brands here, just unique, well-made items that offer a fresh perspective on functional design. They also collaborate with local artists to create one-of-a-kind products that highlight the shop’s design philosophy.”



“If you have an extra afternoon in town, I suggest heading over to the historic core of Manila and visiting the colonial walled city of Intramuros for a crash course in Philippine history. Formerly the seat of power of the Spanish government in the Philippines, Intramuros is the only district in Manila where old, Spanish-era influences are still plentiful, thus offering a unique counterpoint to the rapid urbanization found elsewhere in the city. Enjoy a leisurely walk on its cobblestone streets and visit historic sites such as Fort Santiago and San Agustin Church. End your day by walking on the seaside boardwalk along Roxas Boulevard to witness a stunning sunset over Manila Bay.”



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