Melbourne-born Michelle is a lawyer who has been based in Manila for the past two years with her husband and teenage son.
Karrivin Plaza is a busy, artistic enclave that's home to cool art spaces including 1335MABINI, which showcases local and international contemporary art in a small but lovely gallery. Don't be put off by the location and the guards at the entrance to the laneway; Karrivin Plaza is one of Makati's hip artisan destinations (and also home to Toyo Eatery, one of the Philippines' best restaurants), 1335mabini.com
Wander through Salcedo market, Makati on a Saturday morning and enjoy the atmosphere of this local fresh produce community market. You can sample some of Manila's favourite street foods, but perhaps be mindful that the prized delicacy in the Philippines, balut, is actually fertilised duck egg! salcedomarket.org
The Wholesome Table offers an extensive range of organic vegan and vegetarian food. Supporting local farmers, it sources organic produce wherever possible, opting for coconut oil instead of palm or corn oil. With two branches in Makati, it's my go-to for high quality organic food for breakfast, lunch and dinner and until late at night; there's also a range of gluten-free bakery items. Try the plant-based Thai Rice Bowl with shavings of local green mango. Brown rice can be swapped out for cauliflower rice. Wash this down with one of their own detox juices such as "Be Well", and you will be set with energy to explore Manila, thewholesometable.com
Makati has a surprising number of hidden and rooftop bars perfect for cocktails on warm nights. A perennial expat favourite is the upscale Blackbird restaurant with bar and garden terrace in the gorgeous art deco Nielson Tower, which was Manila's first commercial airport tower. The ambience is ideal for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail, and the drinks list is extensive. The Paradise Mojito is a delicious rum-based cocktail with mango puree, passionfruit, mint, lime and a generous slice of fresh mango brulee. If you're looking to take home a souvenir, Don Pappa Rum is locally distilled and comes in a cool bottle inside an easy-to-pack cylinder that pops straight into the suitcase. It's available at supermarkets, blackbird.com.ph, donpaparum.com
Avoid driving anywhere on a Friday night. The roads are overcrowded and filled with jeepneys, the converted post-war open Jeeps that operate as public transport but a big contributor to the air pollution problem in Manila. Fridays are the worst for traffic and it can take hours to get even the shortest distance. So if you must travel by car leave early! Uber is no longer available in Manila but Grab is quite popular.