Manila – Philippines

Population: 9m
Area code: (+63) 2
Time zone: GMT +8
Currency: Philippine peso (P) = 100 centavos
Climate: Tropical; average temperatures 21°C /70°F - 30°C/86°F (Jan); 24°C/75°F - 34°C/93°F (May)
Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL): 7km/4 miles

View of Manila

‘Four hundred years under the Cross followed by fifty under the greenback’ – nowhere does the misquote of the popular aphorism describing the Philippines ring more true than in the heart of its sprawling metropolis. Admittedly, Uncle Sam’s legacy seems at times to have swamped the Baroque scenario left by the Spanish conquistadores, but especially at fiesta time the city’s Latin heart still throbs palpably beneath the star-spangled trappings of pop music and fast food. Despite its all-too-manifest shortcomings, Manila remains an indomitably cheerful place, the optimistic charm of its nine million citizens as triumphant as the exuberant jeepneys thronging the streets, even in the face of poverty, housing shortages, brownouts, atmospheric pollution and traffic jams.

Founded in 1571 by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in the shores of legendary Manila Bay, for over three centuries the ‘Noble and Ever Loyal City’ flourished as a bastion of the spice trade until the Spanish-American War. Named for the nilad, a flowering plant growing on the banks of the Pasig River, by the 19th century ‘Maynilad’ shone as one of the jewels in the Borbon colonial crown. The ‘Intamuros’ walled city became a miniature Madrid-in-the-tropics, with life within its fortifications the epitome of Castilian elegance and Mediterranean joie-de-vivre.

The rest in modern history, a take of victories and defeats and wartime havoc; on a world scale, the devastation of Manila was second only to that of Warsaw. Its rebirth as the capital of the newly independent nation was hampered at times by domestic and world events. Today the country’s largest conurbation by far, remains the center of all economic, political, social and cultural activity and the measure of all things in the archipelago. The ‘Wall Street of Asia; title may seem exaggerated when applied to the commercial district of Makati, but the seething internationally of Metro Manila’s conglomeration of eight cities and seventeen municipalities will recall that other American assortment of suburbs in search of a city: Los Angeles.

Manila Bay - beautiful sunset

The jumble of Malay, Chinese, Hispanic and American elements contributing to the Manileno character have created a cultural mix which makes Manila one of the most enchanting and exhilarating capitals in Asia: its alta sociedad elegant and sophisticated, hospitable to a fault, and with a fine sense of the dramatic pervading Church festivals or society balls. The legendary sunsets are as spectacular as ever, but it is the prospects of life after dark which shine like a lighthouse on the shores of the bay. The endlessly debated musicality of the Pinoys (as the Filipinos call themselves) vibrates through the nation’s psyche and the myriad restaurants and bars from Bangkok to Tokyo and beyond: top-of-the-charts jazz, rock, pop, rap, and reggae with an inimitable Tagalog twist.

Template by - Abdul Munir - 2008