Asia Destinations

Places to Visit in Metro Manila Philippines



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Metropolitan Manila Sights & Sounds

The Manila City Clock Tower fascinates the viewer because of its lack of symmetry and regularity. Imposing and distinctive, it marks the point of connection. At night, it shines vibrantly as if to make known Manila is the heart of the Metropolis.

Manila has since expanded to become the core of the Philippines largest metropolis. The city is now part of Metropolitan Manila or Metro Manila, which is a bustling metropolis of four cities and thirteen municipalities.

Metro Manila is popular for its charming sights and astounding golden sunset views from the shores of enchanting Manila Bay. Because of its strategic location, this modern and teeming metropolis is the take-off point for further travel to other parts of the country the Gateway to the Philippines.

Pause for a second and you will feel the richness of the culture emanating from all directions. Carry on, and you become part of the ebb and flow.

At the turn of the 20th century, the great American city planner, Architect Daniel Burnham, noted, "the old walled city of Intramuros at the mouth of the Pasig River is one of the best preserved medieval cities anywhere in the world." Intramuros is a legacy of the 17th-century Spanish Occupation. At the center of the Old Walled City is the grand Manila Cathedral, well known for its detailed stone carvings, stained glass mosaics, and rose windows. The present Romanesque edifice rises majestically over the remains of five predecessors, the first of which was in 1581.

Not too far, is the old San Agustin Church with notable baroque touches, and 1875th trompe-l'oeil ceiling paintings. The church courtyard is grace by several granite sculptures of lions, which were gifts from Chinese converts to Catholicism. Next to the church are the restored botanical gardens of Fr. Jose Blanco, now a favorite place for wedding receptions.

Guarding the vital entrance to the Pasig River is Fort Santiago, an imposing fortress of majestic proportions, which was once the seat of Spanish military power. Today it stands as a memorial to Dr Jose Rizal, who was in prison here before his execution in 1896.

Across the Pasig River from Fort Santiago is Binondo or Chinatown, which is the center of business for the Chinese-Filipino community, and the hub for bargain computers and printers, organic and herbal products including precious stones and metals. Chinatown, a symbol of the Chinese presence in the Philippines, has kept some run-down but amazing 19th-century wooden houses complete with mother-of-pearl windows, elaborate carvings, and tiled street sign.

Downtown, towards the center of Manila is Quiapo the fancy of many bargain-hunters where stalls sell arrays of goods and handicrafts at prices that are practically a steal. In close proximity is the Malacanang Palace, the presidential home. Adjacent to it is a museum of presidential memorabilia that is open for public viewing.

Going from sophisticated to nonchalance, real and otherwise, requires no more than a short trip. Every night the artsy and the moneyed clique troop to these holes in the walls where they co-exist.

Metropolitan Manila reflects the best of the 7,107 more islands. Bustling like any other metropolis, it can be a bit intimidating at first. However, Metro Manila tends to grow on you the more time you spend in it.

Reconstructions in Intramuros including Puerta Real and Baluarte de San Diego converted some gates into parks and performing venues. Chambers along its gates are now full of art galleries, souvenir shops, restaurants, coffee shops, even cyber cafes. Fort Santiago, the site for political prisoners from the Spanish to Japanese times is now a park where one may enjoy a leisurely ride aboard a horse-drawn carriage.

A stone's throw away from Rizal Park is the Ermita and the Malate districts. The former has the most display of antique art galleries, curio, studios, and souvenir shops. The latter is the place that never sleeps-cozy cafes, exclusive clubs, music lounges, and performance theaters. These two places make up the Manila's Tourist Belt.

The centre of performing arts in the country is the Philippine Cultural Center. There is also the Folk Arts Theater, the historic Metropolitan Theatre, and an open-air theatre in Rizal Park.

The Manila nightlife offers everything from dazzling cultural shows to futuristic discotheques, sensational entertainment lounges, and fashionable bars. Roxas Boulevard, the sunset strip, has the gathering of posh hotels, casinos, and lively nightspots including beer-and-grill gardens. Some of them in historic buildings making them the perfect party place in the city-the ultimate cosmopolitan delight.

The Metropolis expresses who he is-exuberance, joyful through good times and bad.

Like most places, first impressions are the most important and the first impressions you receive of Manila are its humidity, humanity, and love for food.

Metro Manila is one big gastronomic trip of many and mixed cuisines. The Illustrado Restaurant in Intramuros is famous for its colonial ambiance and Spanish provincial cuisine. The Remedios Circle of the old Malate district is the most-desired watering hole of artists, designers and the cafe society. Equally, the Binondo or Chinatown diners offer authentic Chinese cuisine, the only place to go for a taste of true mainland delicacies. In addition, there are numerous restaurants serving American and other Western dishes notably within the financial districts.

Filipino specialty restaurants abound-within the country's financial center to prestigious places to the remotest corner of the metropolis enticing visitors with varied island flavors.

First-class hotels and restaurants attract guests with performances by local pop artists, folk dance troupes, string quartets, and jazz bands. The nightlife in Metro Manila is always vibrant and inviting. The districts of Ermita and Malate in Manila are the well-liked tourist nightspots. Similarly, the urbane Global City party clubs are the rage of the stylish and chic upper class.

The mighty metropolis throbs and moves to its own sound: traffic, horns, buzz of 1.6 million people going about their daily business. Pause for a second and you will feel the pulse. Carry on and you will contribute to the sights and sounds of the metropolis.

Welcome to Metropolitan Manila, to a blend of cultures, flavors, sights, sounds to behold and experience, where all are gracious enough to make you their friend.

 

More about this author: Lizzie Elzingre