Manila Mini Guide
What can you Tell me About Manila?
Manila is a fascinating city with an equally fascinating history. In its time as capital of the Philippines, it has been under Arab, Spanish, British and American control and has retained much of the culture and mores of those times. The city was once described as the oriental equivalent of London, Paris or Madrid but its geographical position during the Second World War proved disastrous as the Japanese and Americans successively bombed the city, mercilessly destroying the old city called Intramuros. The ruins of Intramuros still stand today as a memorial to those who died.
How do I get to Manila?
At the moment, Ninoy Aquino Airport is the Philippines largest and serves Manila but Diosdada Macapagal Airport, found a little further out in a business park looks set to take over as the city’s main point of entry with landing charges much lower there. Access from both airports to the centre is simple with buses, taxis and car rental available.
What Should I Make Sure I see in Manila?
Intramuros is a must visit site with the ruins of the old city, bombed in 1945, standing starkly within the massive city walls that give Intramuros its name. There are many buildings still standing from the time and some were restored after the US victory, Fort Santiago being one of them, and considered Manila’s most visited landmark. Visit also the Postigo del Palacio which is renowned as the place of execution of the Filipino hero Jose Rizal and where there is a shrine and small museum dedicated to the story of how he led the struggle against Spanish domination.
What can I buy to Take Home With me?
The Philippines are renowned for their handicrafts, art and music and many of the souvenirs centre around these themes. Wooden and bamboo items including housewares and jewellery boxes abound as well as a unique style of art which, with its vivid colours, may not suit all tastes. You can also pick up Filipino musical instruments including flutes and percussion instruments cheaply. Flowers and fruit from the island, especially some of the more unusual varieties, make great gifts but check your airline’s policy before you buy.
What is Good to eat in Manila?
Manila is home to the largest Chinatown in the world and if you get the chance to visit, you’ll soon be immersed in the culture and cuisine. From street vendors selling hot and spicy food on the go, to sit down meals in classy restaurants, the Chinese food is the most varied and delicious outside of China. Elsewhere there is still a strong Spanish twist on cuisine and it’s not unusual to find tapas, tortilla and more. Finally, the years of American rule have left the usual fast food stamp on each street but try to sample more authentic food if you can.
How do the Filipinos Celebrate?
The Philippines is the largest Catholic country in the Far East and the religion strongly influences the festivals and celebrations in the islands. Most of the big religious festivals are celebrated with gusto and often combine aspects from other religions making the occasions quite eclectic.