“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the things you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain
Metro Manila, the Philippines major metropolis and central hub for entertainment, career growth and job opportunities. Widely recognized as the capital city of the Philippines, it would be no question that the place would be teeming with locals seeking for better employment and foreigners looking to do business. However, there is more to Manila than what meets the eye and it certainly holds a lot of different facets if one cared enough to look deeply. Never mind the perpetual traffic the city seems to be plagued in, nor the fact that it now resembles as the Philippines’ very own concrete jungle and you will see there is a subtle charm about this big and bustling city. If you have plans on visiting this major metropolis soon, it might be best to get a bit of context as to what attracts tourists and locals alike to this city.
Here are some indispensable facts you should know about Manila:
1.) It is several cities in one
Metro Manila in a nutshell is a conflation of multiple diverse cities to make up one major and immense metropolis. Each one has a different personality from the last and you are guaranteed to enjoy different things in each city. Makati is known to be the lavish and sophisticated city and you would certainly find a lot of Makati things to do and activities you can include in your itinerary. On the other hand, if you are looking for a slice of culture or are simply a history buff, you can visit the local Chinatown or Intramuros. Do note, however, that not all places are safe and do not put yourself in harm’s way by venturing into potentially unsafe areas.
2.) Intramuros is the original Manila
Known for its cobblestone paths and charming but rare horse carriages, the walled city of Intramuros used to be the recognized heart of the Philippine civilization. During the Spanish colonization era, some of the country’s top universities, religious orders, influential families and political buildings all shared the same district which was in Intramuros. Unfortunately, the structures were heavily damaged by the American and Japanese troops by the end of the Second World War. However, the stories (harrowing tales of survival and ghost stories alike) still resonate within its walls and with some locals.
3.) Poverty and wealth grow side by side
To first-timers and visitors, the sight can be quite jarring especially when you come upon a closer glimpse at the stark contrast between how the rich live side by side with the indigent. It can be quite unsettling to see shopping districts and affluent neighborhoods sit almost shoulder-to-shoulder with the rather squalid slums. The staggering inequality might be something that leaves most travelers unprepared as to how to reach and may even leave them scratching their heads, but amidst this, you would be amazed at the Filipino people’s resiliency.
4.) Filipinos love their malls
The string of countless and seemingly endless array of malls is a testament to this fact. While to most westerners, the mall is nothing more than a consolidated place for getting everything you need under one roof, Filipinos do not see it quite the same way. To them, shopping malls are cathedrals of excess and indulgence in such a way that you would never have a dull moment inside them. It is the perfect place not only for dining and shopping, but people watching as well. Furthermore, there are a lot of activities you can do in the mall as well–from ice-skating, hearing mass or visiting the bar, your options are seemingly limitless.
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