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The Manila Melting Pot

Like many cities in developing nations, Manila is not without its pollution and traffic, nor the conspicuous divide between rich and poor. Nevertheless, this bustling Philippines capital, situated on ...

Like many cities in developing nations, Manila is not without its pollution and traffic, nor the conspicuous divide between rich and poor. Nevertheless, this bustling Philippines capital, situated on the west coast of the island of Luzon, is a remarkable melting pot of Asian and Latin cultures, thick with history and flavor.

When in Manila, sightseeing is protocol. Many history lessons have been learnt while visiting the oldest part of the city, Intramuros(Latin for “within the walls”), which was founded by the Spanish in 1571 and houses numerous historic buildings and churches. Rizal Park, named after anti-colonialist Dr. José Rizal, features a skating rink, chess plaza, beautiful ornamental gardens and free concerts on Sundays. Other places worth visiting are the Malacañang Palace, The National Museum of the Philippines, Binondo (Manila’s Chinatown) and the Chinese Cemetery, where some of the rich are buried with air conditioners, chandeliers and flushing toilets.

Various accommodations in Manila is available, ranging from 5-star hotels to more affordable options on Roxas Boulevard or in the districts of Ermita and Malate. As with dining choices, the high end brings us to Lolo Dad’s Café, a popular restaurant for gourmet Filipino cuisine and Ilustrado, which serves Filipino and Spanish dishes.

For the more adventurous foodie, a great selection of street foods such as isaw (grilled chicken and pork innards), banana cue, kamote cue (deep fried banana and sweet potato with caramelized brown sugar), kwek kwek (hard boiled quail, chicken or duck eggs covered in orange batter, then fried and seasoned)and halo-halo (shaved ice with condensed milk, preserved fruit, sweet beans and a scoop of ice cream)can be found throughout the city.

The best way to get a feel for Manila shopping is to go to a ‘tiangge’, a market of stalls, where everything can be bargained. Market! Market!, St. Francis SquareFree Web Content, Greenhills Shopping Center and Tiendesitas are examples of such.

Traffic is a major headache but a Manila experience wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the colorful and crowded Jeepneys – jeeps once used by American Armed Force units that have been modified for public transport and are known for their flamboyant decorations. To find out more about this exciting metropolis visit the official tourism website.

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