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Manila: Distinguished and Ever Loyal City

Metro Manila is the political, economic, social, educational, cultural and recreational hub of this vast archipelago of 7,107 islands that is the Philippines. Nowhere else in the Philippines can you acquire a greater dose of local color, a better understanding of the country's multi-faceted culture, or as many glimpses of its contrasts as in this pulsating, vibrant metropolis.

by Jhaypee Guia on July 19, 2012
Manila: Distinguished and Ever Loyal City

The Manila Clock Tower and the Philippine Flag

Manila is the capital city of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities (along with the smaller municipality of Pateros) that comprise Metro Manila.

Manila is located on the eastern shore of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north; Quezon City to the northeast; San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east; Makati to the Southeast, and Pasay to the south.

The city is divided into six legislative districts and consists of sixteen geographical districts: Binondo, Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Paco, Pandacan, Port Area, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Andres, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Santa Ana, Santa Cruz, Santa Mesa and Tondo. Bustling commerce and some of the most historically and culturally significant iconic landmarks in the country, as well as the seat of the executive and judicial branches of the government are to be found in the city. Manila is also home to many scientific and educational institutions, numerous sport facilities, and other culturally and historically significant venues.

Metro Manila is the political, economic, social, educational, cultural and recreational hub of this vast archipelago of 7,107 islands that is the Philippines. Nowhere else in the Philippines can you acquire a greater dose of local color, a better understanding of the country's multi-faceted culture, or as many glimpses of its contrasts as in this pulsating, vibrant metropolis.

The streets are alive with colorful jeepneys, rumbling buses and sleek automobiles. In old sections of Manila like Intramuros (the old walled city) and Chinatown, clip-clopping horse-drawn carriages pick their way through traffic.

Glass and concrete towers rise side-by-side with Spanish colonial houses and neo-classical government buildings. Dragon arches and elaborately-styled mansions define the enclaves of the Chinese and the rich and famous. Nearby you might find shanty housing of the poor and the less fortunate.

Outside the civilized bustle of air-conditioned shopping centers, sidewalk vendors haggle and press with the sweaty, hurrying crowds. The glare and gaiety of marketplaces are mere steps away from the peaceful greenery of parks and the divine atmosphere of churches.


Premier gateway to the many islands and tourist destinations north and south of the Philippines, Metro Manila has its own share of attractions to suit almost every interest.

In Manila, churches, theaters and museums vie for the attentions of history and culture buffs. Malls, boutiques, flea markets and antique shops offer endless surprises for shoppers and souvenir-hunters.

Posh restaurants and sidewalk eateries entice gastronomic adventurers. Snazzy discos and cozy bars entertain the night owl.

Golfing greens, country clubs and accessible out-of-town resorts provide recreation and relaxation for all.

And everywhere, a friendly, festive people who smile readily, adore music and love to welcome visitors with their world-famous brand of hospitality.

Tourist Attractions

Enchanting lights illuminate Jones Bridge to highlight the Pasig River, which divides Manila into North and South, or mainly into commercial/industrial centers, and government and cultural centers, respectively. More redevelopment projects are on-going along this historic river, which runs through several Metro Manila cities, exiting to Manila Bay.

  • Muelle Del Rio

This promenade straddles the southern bank of the Pasig River marking area where the historic "Galleon Trade" started and flourished. Several notable restaurateurs have set up big umbrellas and impromptu tents serving popular delicacies. The northern embankment of the river has also been transformed into a well-lighted promenade with sidewalk cafes and flea market stalls.

The plaza is the showcase of the city-wide urban renewal. It transforms an erstwhile chaotic place into well-appointed open areas for political, social and cultural events. Artistic arches and landmark provide an appropriate perimeter for the public as they segregate areas for organized street-vending.

Lacson underpass complex lies underneath connecting artery of the other side of the street. It contains assorted stores, offices and stalls for commuters and church devotees.

Malacañang Palace is considered to be one of the most historic structures in the Philippines. It has been the official residence of the highest chief executive of the country since 1863. Located next to the Pasig River, it served as a summer residence for the Spanish governor-general during the early 1800s. Governor General Rafael de Echague moved the seat of government to Malacañang Palace after an earthquake devastated the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros. Since then, it has been witness to the numerous challenges that have faced the nation and the events that have defined our history. A wing of the palace is open to the public as a Philippine Presidential Museum. The palace tour focuses on all former Presidents of the Philippines and an exhibit are presidential memorabilia highlighting the terms of office of the country's former chief executives.

Founded in the mid-1850s by Lim Ong and Tan Quien Sien (Don Carlos Palanca) to accommodate the many Chinese who were now allowed to be buried in Spanish cemeteries. The cemetery covering 54 hectares has streets lined with mausoleums which are richly adorned with marble and wrought iron, some with stained glass windows. Imposing mausoleums serve the dual purpose of honoring the dead and exhibiting the socio-economic status of the family. The crematorium is opposite the temple. A nearby building houses ashes on 2 floors and on the 3rd floor, the bones of those who will be returned to mainland China. The poor are buried in terraces to the left of the Buddhist Temple.

Once a Spanish cemetery surrounded by a massive circular wall during the Spanish era. Intended for the victims of the cholera epidemic. Niches inside the cemetery were leased for P20.00 for three years, renewable. When all the niches were filled, remains of occupants whose leases have expired were transferred to the ossorio to allow for new burials. The last internment was in 1913. Remains of Spanish governors and of the elite were laid to rest in the Chapel of St. Pancratius. Today, only the remains of Governor-General Ramon Solano are still in the chapel. In 1966, the cemetery was declared a National Park making a charming spot where visitors can promenade.

  • Manila Zoological Garden

The Manila Zoo shelters a collection of Philippine and exotic African wildlife. Among the varieties of animals and birds found here are the endangered Philippine Tamaraw and the Tarsier, both indigenous to the Philippines.

One of the grandest hotels in the orient, the Manila Hotel stands among the structures of the finest architectural and social creations of its time. Originally built from 1908 to 1912, it has been aptly referred to by many as the "Showcase of the Philippines", "Aristocrat of the Orient", and "Address of Prestige". It's guest book is a veritable Who's Who, always filled out by celebrated names and famous figures from business tycoons to royalty and heads of state to superstars of sports and entertainment world. Beautifully nestled among such sights as the historic Intramuros and the famed Manila Bay, today, the vastly improved refurbished in the same distinctive classic architecture with modern amenities and facilties, Manila Hotel, a proud institution, a landmark and a heritage preserved, it has a wealthy reservoir of stories to tell. And to quote Ernest Hemingway, one of the grandest story tellers of our times on his definition of a good narrative , he said, "it is a good story if it is like the Manila Hotel".

Originally known as "Lagyo". In 1591, a chapel was constructed here for Nuestra Señora de Guia. A Mexican hermit arrived in the place and lived in the chapel and people referred to him as "La Ermita". Ermita was a fishing village prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. When the Spaniards moved out of Intramuros, they integrated with the Indios in Ermita and adjacent Malate and to a lesser extent, Paco making them the fashionable residential areas during the Spanish era up to the American era.

On a patch of land across the road form the Paco Post Office building is a statue of Japanese Feudal Lord Wukon Takayama who was exiled to the Philippines in 1614 because he refused to disavow his Christian beliefs. At that time, the Spaniards referred to the Paco Area as the "Yellow Plaza" because of the more than 3,000 Japanese who resided there. Plaza Dilao is the last vestige of the old town of Paco.

The oldest university in the Philippines and in Asia founded on April 11, 1611 by Reverend Father Miguel de Benavides. Originally opened as the College of Our Lady of the Rosary, the university has been bestowed the title "Royal" by King Charles III of Spain in 1758, while Pope Leo XIII granted the title "Pontifical" in 1902. Located originally in Intramuros, it was transferred to its present site in 1911. The university has 3 ecclesiastical faculties: Theology, Canon Law and Philosophy. There are 12 colleges and faculties as well. Owned by Spanish Dominicans, it is governed by a Board of Trustees. Until the late 19th century, the university accepted only students of Spanish parentage. Women were first admitted to the university in 1927. UST campus also served as an interment camp for Americans, British Canadians and other allied nationals of the Japanese Occupation Forces from January 1942-February 1945.

  • Manila Bay

Considered the finest harbor in the Far East, where the infamous "Mock Batlle" occurred between the Amricans and the Spaniards in 1898. Many historians believed that the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade between the Philippines and Mexico thrived principally because of the strategic location of Manila Bay. The Galleon Trade lasted for 244 years.

Considered as one of the largest parks in Southeast Asia. It has an area of 58 hectares which runs from Taft Avenue up to the walls of the famous Manila Bay. Known as the Bagumbayan field during the Spanish era since this was where the Filipino-Moslems took refuge after the Spaniards occupied Intramuros in 1571. It was also called "Luneta" which means Little Moon. For 74 years, it was used as an execution ground by the Spaniards for Filipino rebels and mutineers. By 1902, Daniel Burnham, architect and city planner chose Bagumbayan as the site of proposed American government center. He designed a U-shaped composition of buildings but only three were constructed: the Executive House, The Department of Tourism building and the Department of Finance building. It acquired its present name Rizal National Park in dedication to the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal whose mortal remains were interred in the corner shore of the Rizal Monument in 1912.

The 50-foot high monument was built in the early 1900s in cooperation of then American Governor-General William Howard Taft thru the funds raised by public subscription to honor the Philippine patriot and hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Rizal's statue which was completed in 1912, was cast in Switzerland under the supervision of Richard Kissling, a Swiss architect, stood on a rhombic base of solid granite blocks below an obelisk.

  • The Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion

A destination galore amidst the flurry of the city, this pocket paradise is just one of a kind. A repository of endemic Philippine orchids, a butterfly haven, a botanic playground, a rainforest, a gastronomic station and art gallery rolled into one. Now a favorite venue for wedding receptions, meetings and other similar events, this unique garden park is the first major project of the Clean and Green Foundation, Inc.

Intramuros, meaning "within the walls", was the glorious old city of Manila. Originally the native settlement of Moslems ruled by Rajah Sulayman, it became an encircled city of massive high stone walls, bulwarks and moats with the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1521. Within the walls of 4.5 kms. Encircling an area of 64 ha. rose residences, churches, schools and government buildings with drawbridges as gates which closed before midnight opened at the political, cultural, educational, religious and commercial realm of Spain in the East.

Not long after however, Intramuros suffered from the hands of the American colonizers as well as from subsequent fires and earthquakes. Bombings at the close of World War II bombarded and almost totally ruined the walled city sparing only some walls and buildings.

Today, restorations and preservations of Intramuros to revive its illustrious past are made through the efforts.

Named after one of the barrios of old Intramuros, this is a cultural-cum-commercial complex currently composed of five houses: Casa Manila, Casa Urdaneta, Casa Blanca, Los Hidalgos and El Hogar Filipino. Plaza San Luis will eventually consist of 9 houses representing different eras in Filipino illustrado or the privileged class home.

The restored shrine inside Fort Santiago houses Rizaliana items in memory of the Philippines' national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal who spent his last few days here before he was executed on December 30, 1896. Among the objects exhibited are various books and manuscripts by and about the national hero; paraphernalia and souvenirs acquired during his several trips abroad; and a collection of colonial-style furniture from his hometown in Calamba, Laguna.

Marking its entrance at the northwestern tip to Intramuros, Fort Santiago was one of the oldest fortifications of Intramuros started in 1571 and completed nearly 150 years later by Filipino forced labor. The Pre-Spanish settlement of Rajah Sulayman, the last Filipino ruler before the coming of the Spaniards, was a wooden fort, Spain's major defense position in the islands. It looked out on the sea, towards which its canons were trained to ward off pirates and invaders. Also known as the "Shrine of Freedom", in memory of the heroic Filipinos imprisoned and killed here during the Spanish and Japanese eras. Partly rebuilt from the ruins of World War II, it is now a park and promenade housing a resident theater company PETA which used ramparts, an old garrison and a small chapel as theaters for both traditional and modern plays.

A museum showcasing an impressive heritage exhibit in dioramas tracing the history of the Philippine-Chinese pre-Hispanic times to the colonial period. Rare prints and photographs, interesting porcelain collection. Unearthed all over the Philippines and famous names of Filipino-Chinese in nation building are part of the exhibit. Open to the public as well is a library containing the most extensive collection of materials and information about the Chinese in the country.

  • Lacson Underpass

The first pedestrian underpass in Asia. It has been rehabilitated as part of the "Buhayin ang Maynila" redevelopment project of Mayor Jose L. Atienza.

  • Santa Ana Church

One of the age-old church that has remained a repository of the Philippines' glorious past.

Museo Pambata is the first hands-on interactive children's museum in the Philippines. It is an exciting learning center with six (6) theme areas namely: Kalikasan (Environment), Maynila Noon (Old Manila), Tuklas (Science), Paglaki Ko (Career Option), Katawan Ko (Body Works) and Bata sa Mundo (Children in the Global Village), a reading resource center and children's playground. The museum is also a venue for programs and activities for the public especially for underserved children such as storytelling, puppet shows, workshops on visual arts, health, etc.

  • Museo ng Maynila

For centuries now, Manila has been the Primate City, not only in terms of its glorious past but has also played a leading role in many fields - in arts and culture, science and technology, government and politics. The Museo ng Maynila speaks to the people of the city's many firsts and the city's many possible futures. The Army and Navy Club which houses the Museo ng Maynila has seen the city through the good and bad days. Built in the first decade of the century, the structure was razed to the ground during World War II (1940-1945). The Museo ng Maynila is entrusted with the dual task of conservation and dissemination of the city's rich heritage. The Museo opened its door to the public in June 20, 1997.

  • Carriedo Waterworks System

Claimed to be the first water system in Asia, it was constructed from 1878 to 1882 at an estimated cost of seven hundred forty five thousand pesos (P745,000.00). The system supplied Manila with water which was pumped from the Marikina River, stored in "El Deposito", an underground reservoir in Pinaglabanan San Juan then flowed by gravity to Manila.

Selected periods of Bonifacio's biography which represent the events and personalities involved in molding our history.

  • MacArthur Monument

A monument re-eacting the Leyte Landing originally located at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila compound, Intramuros, Manila.

The Dancing Fountain is highlighted by colored lights. Built for the purpose of beautifying the park and to have a cool ambiance for the people who are resting at the park.

  • Mexican Botanical Garden

This Botanical Garden offers samples of plants indigenous of Mexico which have become a part of the Philippine flora. The garden serves as a symbol of the cultural heritage of Mexico to the Philippines.

The oldest stone church in Metro Manila was built in 1586 and completed in 1606. An intricately carved door opens to the church. Of great interest are the XIXth century chandeliers, the pulpit, the side chapels, the tombstone on the floorings and an 18th century pipe organ. Like an impregnable fortress, San Agustin has withstood the ravages of time both brought by nature and by man; earthquakes and typhoons, Chinese and Dutch attacks, the British Occupation Force and the Philiipine-Spanish War, Dewey's bombardment, the bloody and destructive Japanese Occupation and the equally devastating return of Mac Arthur's troops.

The first marine themed park in the Philippines which has become the hottest tourist draw in the metropolis since it opened in March 2008. It's a world of water, light, unique treats and surprises that will take one's breath away. A place where the best of both worlds, oversea and undersea, mingle in one spectacular site dubbed as an "Integrated Resort". The Manila Ocean Park features some of the exciting and newest water-themed park like the Oceanarium, Musical Fountain Show, Glass Bottom Boatride, Aquanaut Voyage, etc.


Here is the list of hotels that can be found in Manila that offers good service and accommodations.

  • Bayview Park Hotel - Ermita, Manila
  • Centara Hotel Manila - Malate, Manila
  • Century Park Hotel - Malate, Manila
  • Diamond Hotel Manila - Malate, Manila
  • G Hotel Manila by Waterfront - Malate, Manila
  • Hotel H20 Manila - Rizal Park, Manila
  • Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila - Ermita, Manila
  • Manila Hotel - Rizal Park, Manila
  • Pan Pacific Manila - Malate, Manila
  • Ramada Manila Central - Binondo, Manila
  • The Bayleaf Intramuros - Intramuros, Manila
  • Waterfront Manila Pavilion - Ermita, Manila

Getting around the Manila City

Manila is the major city in the Philippines. Tourists can go around Manila in many options. Buses, FXs, jeepneys, taxis, tricycles, and pedicabs are available as a mode of transportations in the city. The city is also serviced by the Manila Light Rail Transit System, popularly known as LRT, as distinct from the MRT in other parts of Metro Manila.

Calesas are still used in the streets of Binondo and Intramuros, but mostly for tourists. Which mode of for-hire used depends upon the distance to be traveled, the cost, and the width of the streets.

The Port of Manila, located in the vicinity of Manila Bay, is the chief seaport of the Philippines. The city is also served by the Pasig River Ferry Service which runs on the Pasig River.

The city is served by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport.

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