Once upon a time, Manila was once a young city within Metro Manila, thriving to have its own identity. Almost five (5) centuries later, it is now a city well known for a place that is rich in diverse culture and every square kilometer has its own history to tell.
The city is a massive 619.56 square kilometers and is divided into 16 districts. The division is based on each district’s popular cuisine and history. This would include the Port area, which is docking and refueling area for all sea-based transport entering Manila.
Indeed, there is so much to experience within this city. For a place that has existed and survived almost five hundred years, under wars, colonization, natural disasters and other occurrences that might have tore down a city, Manila remained strong and resilient.
If you intend to do a tour of Manila, it is important that you first acquaint yourself with the famous landmarks of the city.”Tatak” literally means stamp in Tagalog; the following are places that are well associated with Manila and are more or less “stamped” or marked not only as part of the city but more of a milestone or a place that helped build Manila over the centuries.
Intramuros – This term came from the Spanish word that means “within the walls”. Its history runs back from the Spanish era where it housed the Fort Santiago headquarters. Today, this has been turned into a museum. This piece of land is made up of spots that have their own history; one of the most important would be the San Agustin Church, which stands to this day.
Malacanan Palace – Another reason why Manila is very important is because it houses the country’s head of state. The Malacanan Palace is the official residence of the president of the Philippines.
Coconut Palace – This establishment was built in 1981 for Pope John Paul’s visit, a project led by former first lady, Imelda Marcos. Up until the 2016 national elections, it was occupied by the former vice president, Jejomar Binay. Today, the palace is open to the public for viewing and events.
Mabini Shrine – This used to be the home of hero, Apolinario Mabini, more commonly known as the “Brains of the Revolution” or “The Sublime Paralytic”. It has been turned into the headquarters of the first Philippine Republic during the American Occupation and is now converted into a museum.
Bonifacio Shrine – This is an area built in commemoration of revolutionary leader, Andres Bonifacio, who fought and died for the country’s freedom.
Manila Metropolitan Theatre – The very own MET of the Philippines, it is a museum designed by Filipino architect, Juan De Guzman Arellano and was built in 1931. It is the largest and most famous art deco theatre in Manila.
Manila Hotel – This hotel became popular because this is where General Douglas McArthur resided before the second world war. To this day, the hotel operates as one of the five star hotels in the Philippines.
Baywalk – Taken from its name, this is a walkway adjacent to Manila Bay and was built for people to enjoy and marvel at Manila’s beautiful sunset. To enhance the experience, some stores have set-up in the area so that people can eat or drink whilst waiting for the sunset.
Rizal Park – In 1889, it was where Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal was executed. A monument was built in his memory and a park was built around it. To this day, many people still visit the place and is a popular meeting place for lovers as well as picnic spots for families.
Chinatown - One of the biggest Chinatowns in the world is within Binondo, a district in Manila. If you want to get authentic Chinese food, and have the authentic China ambience, you should visit this district. This is also where you find great deals on trade items as well as fresh produce.
Your Manila To-Do List
Aside from these famous landmarks, there are so much more activities that you can do while within the city. Here are some of the most suggested things you should add to your to-do list:
Art Geeking – The city, being rich in history, naturally has its fair share of museums to house important artifacts and to remember moments in the past. If you are interested in the history of the Philippines, you can visit the National Museum of the Philippines. If you are more interested in the art segment of the Philippines, there is the National Art Gallery for you to visit. For those that are more interested in the political evolution of the country, you need to include the Museum of Philippine Political History on your list. There also a place for children’s enjoyment – the Museo Pambata; and of course, if you want to know more about the progression of the Filipino-Chinese culture in the country, you should check out Bahay Tsinoy.
Nature Appreciation – One nice thing about Manila is that no matter how much congested people say it is, there are still efforts to create areas that let people enjoy the things that nature has to offer. One of those areas is Rizal Park, which was previously mentioned. On that note, there is another park – Paco Park. This was actually where Rizal’s remains were initially buried, and was also a cemetery for Spanish families who reside in Manila. Today, it is used as an events place for concerts and weddings and has jogging paths. For those who are inclined to animals, there are also Manila Zoo and Manila Ocean Park. Manila Zoo has been around for decades while Ocean Park is quite new.
Touring – Since there are so many things to see, so many places to go to and so little time, there are already some businesses that tried to streamline this by offering tours. One of them would be the Intramuros tour, which can easily take your whole day. There is also the city walk tour in Chinatown where you can experience a day in Chinatown – look at items with great bargain prices and eat at Chinese restaurants that serve the best Chinese food in the country.
As of this writing, there are so much more sights to see in Manila all year round. Aside from the usual places, there are also seasonal events that are exclusive to Manila such as the Pyrolympics or fireworks display or various large concerts that only concert venues in Manila can accommodate.
Manila is truly a city that brings about so many memories. This is where you can actually go, get nostalgia from the early days and create new memories today.