"Travel Notes from Manila" City of Manila by gdilieto
City of Manila Travel Guide: 2,931 reviews and 8,203 photos
I am afraid the one day I spent in Manila is too-little time to appreciate the full potential of this city and I ended up considering Manila one of the ugliest capital cites I have ever traveled to in the world. And it might well make it to the top of the chart if it wasn't for the sea and the bay which provide indeed some relief to an otherwise depressing urban landscape.
It is unfortunate that there is nothing left today of the splendor that in the past centuries made Manila the "Pearl of the Orient", a combination of Spanish, American and Asian influences found nowhere else in Asia. Adding up to WWII's destruction (see the Battle of Manila), a troubled last half-century of history has resulted in chaotic urban development and widespread poverty, making today this metropolis hard to enjoy as a tourist with no sights worth the name and an unpleasant feeling of a dangerous and unsafe place.
Those who read should know I consider Mexico City one of the most-charming cities in the world and I am as well intrigued by the urban vitality of Bangkok or Hong Kong more than by the stunning beauty of Paris or Rome. Still, I don't get the excitement of many people about Manila. I kind of feel this city deserves a second chance. It is definitely on my to-do list to go figure it out.
If you look at the cover photo of this page, you might well think it has been taken in some place in Latin America. And you might as well feel you are in Latin America when jumping on a jeepney to navigate through the city or when a taxi driver named Carlos drives you to a restaurant to eat lechón and drink a San Miguel. I did have that kind of feeling indeed, to the point that I started talking to people in Spanish, receiving in turn funny faces as none speeches Spanish in the Philippines these days (though the national Philipino language has many loanwords from Spanish). More than a century after the Spanish colonization ended (1898), and after more of half a century of independence, Manila still preserves a peculiar look and taste that makes it more similar to many Latin American rather than other Asian metropolis. It is probably for the bay, or for the jeepneys, so similar to the diablos rojos, or for the American influence until recent days, but Manila reminded me of Panamá City more than it did of any other city I visited in Asia.
Peculiarity of the Philippines with respect of other Southeastern Asian Countries is also marked by religion. With ~80% of population Roman Catholics (~90% Christian) the Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia (the other being East Timor) and the third Roman Catholic country in the world by population, after Brazil and Mexico. Catholicism in the Philippines, blends official doctrine with folk observance. Official services are supplemented with a number of folk-religious ceremonies which bring cohesion in the community. The single event most conducive to community solidarity each year is the fiesta. Celebrated on the special day of the patron saint of a town (barangay), the fiesta is a time for general feasting: houses are opened to guests, food is served in abundance and big events such as parades, dances, cockfights, and other contests are organized as part of the celebrations.
- In a nutshell:A city hard to appreciate at first contact as a tourist
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