From its name alone, you can already guess that Poblacion has a lot of history behind it. With a name that literally translates to the Spanish word for "town," the barangay is believed to be the first human settlement in what is now Makati City. Ever since, Poblacion blossomed into a cultural, historical and entertainment center, and remains as such to this day.
Although it's not as flashy as the CBD on the surface, Poblacion more than makes up for it with attractions that are must-sees in their own right. Whether you're an energetic thrill-seeker or a quiet introspectionist, this place has something for you, including:
Century City and Power Plant Mall
Compared to the Ayala Malls in the CBD, these two malls aren't as directly accessible via public transportation. In spite (or because?) of that, however, Century City and Power Plant Mall continue to thrive in their respective areas, and attract customers from all walks of life. Also, both of them have unique offerings you won't find anywhere else.
For example, Century City Mall has Mystery Manila (where you have to solve a case within 60 minutes) and the Fountain Show (where you can watch a lights-and-water show every 6 and 8 PM). Likewise, Power Plant Mall has the fountain near the entrance facing Plaza Drive, as well as the occasional art exhibits. Whether you're a hardcore shopper or not, you'll notice that both malls have a certain elegance, sophistication and style that most malls don't have.
The Foodie Havens
If there's one thing Poblacion has in spades, it's hole-in-the-wall establishments. And they're not the usual carinderia types you find around the Metro, either: They offer Greek, Indian, Tex-Mex, Filipino, Japanese — you name it, they have it. Cafes have also been mushrooming around the area, like the hidden Bean & Yolk Café at the Bel-Air Soho Suites, and the Eight Coffee Bar in Rockwell.
The Heritage District
If you want to go back in time, the Museo ng Makati is home to documents, artifacts and other objects that'll help you piece together the history of Makati. It used to be Makati's town hall from 1918 to 1961, and underwent several renovations until former mayor Jejomar Binay enacted City Ordinance No. 186, which converted the town hall into a museum.
Aside from the Museo, you can check out the Saints Peter and Paul Church, which was constructed in 1620 and is considered the oldest church in the city. There's also the Poblacion River Park, the Makati City Public Market and the other sights and sounds bounded by Kalayaan Avenue, J. P. Rizal, R. Palma and P. Burgos Streets.
The Entertainment District
Speaking of P. Burgos Street, that place is best known as a stopover for people who want to, shall we say, have a good time. If you'd rather do something else, though, P. Burgos is also home to restaurants like Empingao, as well as places to crash like Lokal Hostel. Wherever you go in this part of Makati, there's bound to be a surprise or two hiding somewhere!
The City Hall Complex
Granted, government offices aren't normally what you have in mind — if you think of them at all — when you look for tourist spots. But if you have any government-related business to attend to, the City Hall happens to be in Poblacion. Make sure it's the right city hall, though; otherwise, you'll end up in the Old City Hall, which is also a nice place to visit, albeit for a completely different reason. Other places you can visit include the Makati Regional Trial Court, the Makati City Pumping Station and the Pio del Pilar National High School.
The High-Rise Buildings
If you'd like to see Makati City in its entirety, all you have to do is go to the top floor of The Gramercy Residences. Towering at an incredible 820 feet (250 meters), the building is considered the second tallest in the Philippines along with Discovery Primea and Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila. You can also visit a restaurant at the 71st floor, aptly named "71 Gramercy," where you can sample delicious French and Italian dishes however you like them.
Aside from the Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Center has other enticing sights and sounds. You have the clean, smoke-free streets, the luxurious residences, the high-end restaurants and the residents who are obviously on the higher rungs of the social ladder. Rockwell is also home to the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, the Phinma Plaza and other businesses that can give those in the CBD a run for their money.
Like all the best cities, Makati is home to both old and new, and Poblacion embodies that to a T. No matter what your preferences are as a tourist, this particular barangay should be included in any "Must Visit" list. And if you happen to find treasures in Poblacion that haven't been mentioned here, feel free to mention them in the comments!