Manila, Philippines: The Pearl of the Orient

by DavidPaulWagner

Manila is the vibrant capital of the Philippines. The city features a mix of the old Spanish and Filipino cultures and a lively, modern lifestyle.

Compared with Bangkok or Singapore, Manila does not receive that many visitors from abroad. But those who make the effort to visit will have a memorable experience. Sunsets over Manila Bay, the huge Luneta Park, interesting old Spanish churches, fun transport in the jeepnies, and -- above all -- the warmth of the residents of Manila! Let us explore the city of Manila.

Where and What is Manila?

Located on the shores of Manila Bay (the finest harbor in Far East), Manila is the capital of the Philippines. Together with a number of adjacent urban areas, Manila is part of a sprawling megacity called Metro Manila which has a population of more than 16 million.

The Manilenos (residents of Manila) comprise a number of different worlds: large communities of poor people, a small middle class and an even smaller rich elite living apart in its own enclaves.

Manila has long been known as the "Pearl of the Orient". The tourist may be assured here of a warm and friendly welcome.

A Tourist Visits Manila

Manila in the Early Days

People have been living on the site of present-day Manila since at least the 10th century AD. There was an early Indianized city state which maintained diplomatic ties with Medang, China and Japan. This was followed by an Islamized city state under the domination of Brunei.

With the Spanish colonization of the Philippine Islands, Manila was made the capital of the country in 1565. The city was closed to foreigners until the early nineteenth century.

To protect the city from invasions, the Intramuros, a massive walled city in the center of Manila, was constructed, beginning in the late 16th century.

Trade with the outside world was only permitted using Spanish galleons which took goods from the Philippines to Apapulco, Mexico and then on to Spain.

The European Enlightenment with its notions of liberty and justice became to known to Filipino intellectuals during the nineteenth century and a movement for independence began to grow. The great Filipino leader, Jose Rizal, was convicted on trumped up charges and executed in what is now Rizal Park, Manila.

Manila in the American Era

The Spanish-American War broke out in 1898. After the United States defeated the Spanish colonists in the Philippines in the Battle of Manila Bay and then in turn defeated Filipino patriots fighting for their country's independence, the Philippines passed under American occupation.

The Americans introduced modern amenities to Manila, such as electricity, gas, water and sewage services. They improved the admininstration, education and health systems, which had been in a realtively neglected state under the Spanish.

During the Second World War, Manila was occupied by the Japanese from January 1942 till March 1945. The city was recaptured by a joint operation of American and Filipino troops, but savage fighting meant that more than 100,000 civilians were killed and the city was flattened. Manila was called the "Warsaw of the East", referring to the fact that the World War II destruction of buildings and infrastructure in Manila was worse than any other city in the world, except for Warsaw, Poland.

Manila 1898-1930

Manila: Pearl of the Orient

American documentary from 1945

Satellite Map of Manila

Manila Since Independence

Since the independence of the Philippines in 1946, Manila's industry and commerce have seen great developments. Its factories produce chemicals, textiles, electronics and commestibles, and process many primary products for export.

On the negative side, Manila -- and Metro Manila generally -- has big environmental problems, ranging from smog and open dumps to polluted air and rivers. According to cleanairnet.org, pollution now adversely affects the life of 98% of Manila's residents.

Some of the interesting things to see in Manila are:

* Rizal Memorial (memorial to Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines
* Luneta Park
* Intramuros (the Spanish walled city)
* Manila Cathedral
* Fort Santiago
* Quiapo Church
* Chinatown
* Chinese Cemetery 
* Malacanang Palace (residence of the Philippine President) 
* Nayong Pilipino
* Paco Park and Cemetery 

Pictures of Manila Bay

Manila Bay, Philippines
Manila Bay
Dusk @ Manila Bay

Interesting Web Pages on Manila

Manila, Philippines
Tourist attractions (a series of pages with detailed information and photos) and history of Manila.

The Manila Bulletin
A daily national newspaper based in Manila. Founded in 1898, it is one of the oldest newspapers in the Philippines.

City of Manila Tourism
Short vignettes on Manila's tourist attractions.

Manila, Philippines
Interesting videos taken flying over Manila and driving through the streets of the city.

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Updated: on 12/15/2012, DavidPaulWagner
 
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laparanoia on 08/25/2012

The United States didn't introduce electricity, gas, water and sewage services to Manila, they were already in place since the former Spanish administration. Neither the admininstration, education and health systems had been in a realtively neglected state under the Spanish. In fact, the Philippines had a free public education system since the 1860s, the first of its kind in Asia and even ahead of most states in the US.

If you want to cross-check the facts read the accounts of a first hand witness, free of any bias, "The Inhabitants of the Philippines", by Frederic H. Sawyer, available free at Project Gutenberg ( http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38081/... )

"A telegraph cable connecting Manila with Hong Kong and the world’s telegraph system had been laid and subsidized. Telegraph wires were extended to all the principal towns of Luzon; lines of mail steamers to all the principal ports of the Archipelago were established and subsidized. A railway 120 miles long had been built from Manila to Dagupan under guarantee. A steam tramway had been laid to Malabon, and horse tramways through the suburbs of Manila. The Quay walls of the Pasig had been improved, and the river illuminated from its mouth to the bridge by powerful electric arc lights.

Several lighthouses had been built, others were in progress. A capacious harbour was in construction, although unfortunately defective in design and execution. [viii]The Manila waterworks had been completed and greatly reduced the mortality of the city. The schools were well attended, and a large proportion of the population could read and write. Technical schools had been established in Manila and Iloilo, and were eagerly attended. Credit appears to be due to the Administration for these measures, but it is rare to see any mention of them."

AnneDollin on 05/01/2012

Interesting history of a great metropolis!



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