As the Philippines’ center for social, cultural, political, and economic activity, as well as the nation’s capital, the City of Manila is one of the busiest in the world. It also remains one of the most densely populated. Counted among the cities and municipalities forming the National Capital Region, Manila is in a constant state of flux—from the frantic traffic to new and rising developments here and there, to the urban movement of daily life. It is an industrial hub as well as an international port of entry, and home to a diverse group of both locals and settlers.
Bisected by the Pasig River and flanking Manila Bay, the City of Manila has played several key roles in the Philippines’ history, constantly serving as a trade and political base. It was a foundation for sentiment against Spanish colonization and then became the headquarters for the U.S. administration. It saw the Battle of Manila Bay, and then inevitably became the permanent seat of national government. It was also the site for one of the most pivotal moments in Philippine history—the People Power revolution, which overthrew the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
Today, Manila is officially a highly urbanized city, having benefited from rapid growth during the industrial revolution. At present, it strives to continue growing in a fast-paced and technological world. Home to burgeoning business districts, leading academic institutions, unique attractions, and commercial centers, it is poised for even more development in the years to come. But for the highly concentrated population to reap its fruit, it is necessary for policies to be more adaptive toward the needs of residents for a higher quality of life.
Jobs are concentrated in the metro, which is a driving force behind rural-urban migration. With the abundance, diversity, and competitiveness of jobs in Manila’s workforce, aspirants from the provinces are often willing to try their luck in the city. As a result, there is overcrowding and competition for these opportunities. But because of its urban setting, as well as its location as a port, Manila remains a rich place to look for work, with opportunities comprising different fields such as:
Manila delves in various forms of manufacturing, from publishing and printing, textile production, chemical processing, and food processing. Several factories can be found in Tondo, Santa Cruz, Binondo, Santa Ana, Paco, and Pandacan. Manila yields a wide range of products from this industry—including lumber and wood items, soaps, and other goods.
Trade prospers within Manila, largely because of its strategic position as a port, with the country’s imports and exports passing through the port. While business centers are spread out around the city, major trade and commerce areas can also be found to the north of the Pasig River. Manila’s own Chinatown, Binondo, is also the center for trade and commerce, especially for Filipino-Chinese merchants. Similarly, several financial institutions are based in Manila. Established banks such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Philippine National Bank, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Philippine Veterans Bank are based in Manila.
The city of Manila is home to several higher education institutions, including the University of Santo Tomas, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, University of the City of Manila (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila) and the Universidad de Manila. Most of these institutions are located within the vicinity of Intramuros, a center of education since colonial eras. Leading schools in their own rights, these institutions, among others, make the academe a thriving scene in Manila.
Tourism is fast becoming a flourishing field. More and more hotels and restaurants have been built in recent years around the Manila area in order to satisfy the growing demand for travel. As an entry port, tourists often use Manila as a springboard to explore different destinations around the country, as well as to discover the heart of the city. With luxury hotels and top-tier restaurants abound, the city continues to be a viable spot for this industry.
As the seat of the country’s politics, several government offices are stationed in Manila. Within Manila, there is Malacañang Palace, the president’s official residence and office. There are also the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, Department Offices, as well as other agencies. Careers in government service abound in the city.
Those who are seeking work opportunities may find the City of Manila a viable place to boost their careers, however, the quality of life becomes an issue with the daily problems of congestion and traffic.
With the current socio-political climate in the country, it is no surprise that Manila’s horizon is always in a state of change. New developments are popping up everywhere in the city, from residential and commercial structures to infrastructure projects such as road and bridge constructions. Whether corporate or government initiatives, these projects offer insight into the potential the city still holds.
Real estate players continue to invest in the development of the city of Manila. For one, Megaworld Corporation, which has spearheaded several projects in the Binondo area, is keen to continue developing it. With a planned 93-room hotel project, Megaworld is expanding its reach in the area. It also has Lucky Chinatown, Noble Place, and Cityplace Twin Tower Residence in its portfolio.
Anchor Land is another key player investing in the Binondo area in the near future with Anchor Grandsuites, a 63-storey luxury development. Planned to be the tallest structure in Chinatowns around the world, the project is Anchor Land’s effort to make an even bigger mark in the Manila real estate scene. In addition to this project, there is also the Eight Alonzo Parksuites along Alonzo Street.
Another local player looking to make a mark is DMCI, with its residential development, The Camden Place, set to rise in Malate.
Of course, there are also infrastructure projects anticipated to come into fruition in the near future. According to the Department of Finance, ten planned infrastructure projects are slated for the year, in compliance with the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program. In total, 75 major projects are expected from the program.
Among these is the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge costing 4.61 billion pesos. Funded through Chinese grants, the bridge connects San Fernando Street in Binondo to Solana Street in Intramuros. With the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge also in rehabilitation plans, the bridges are efforts to improve road accessibility within the respective areas.
Manila City is a place that does not shy away from grand malls and entertainment hubs. When you want it big, Manila City will give you a feast for your eyes in all the grandeur of its malls and entertainment centers that are proliferated by locals and tourists alike. Lamudi Philippines gives you a rundown of the top malls and entertainment hubs in Manila City that will keep you coming back for Manila as one of the most famous songs goes.
MOA ranks as the fourth largest mall in the Philippines. Enjoy your shopping spree while viewing the coast of Manila Bay. The mall grounds house four buildings which include the Main Mall, Entertainment Mall, and North and South Park Buildings — all connected by walkways. Aside from high-end and branded shops and food places, MOA takes pride in having the first IMAX theater in the country along with an Olympic size skating rink, concert grounds, amusement park, Science Center, SMX Convention Center, and the Mall of Asia Arena where foreign and local entertainers have held concerts including the 65th Miss Universe contest.
MOA is owned and operated by SM Investments Corporation which is also the builder of SM City Manila, SM Quiapo, and SM San Lazaro in Manila City.
Robinsons Place Manila is strategically located at the historic city of Manila where you can find its nearby neighbors such as UP Manila, St. Paul Manila, Supreme Court, and other well-known institutions and offices. The mall is a walking distance away from Manila Bay and the city’s main thoroughfares such as Taft and Roxas Boulevard. The 7-level establishment is a shopping haven to all Manila residents and the like.
Situated in the five-star Hyatt Hotel is Casino Filipino Hyatt Manila. If you’re feeling lucky and would like to try your luck at a game of Poker, Baccarat, Roulette, Black Jack, among others, then head on to Casino Filipino Hyatt Manila. You can also take a chance with coins using the slot machines there.
A government-owned casino by the Philippine Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Casino Filipino houses three floors of gaming areas for endless casino fun. Casino Filipino has branches in other parts of the country as well.
Luxury, glamour, modernity, and cutting-edge culture all make up Midas Hotel and Casino. Check in the hotel and live the high life with world-class gaming equipment, sleek interiors, and modern amenities. Take your bet in style in a game of Baccarat, Roulette, and Pontoon.
You need not go into the wild or swim underwater in order to see the natural wonders of the ocean because Manila Ocean Park gives us a glimpse of the beautiful life that can be found only in the seas. Take an educational trip and meet the many underwater animals, including Nemo. It’s a wholesome adventure for the entire family and gang at the Manila Ocean Park.
Manileños need not go out of the city to experience the carnival thrill from death-defying rides. Long before Enchanted Kingdom in Laguna was created, Star City in Manila has been entertaining children and even those who are child at heart with its indoor and outdoor carnival rides and arcades. The amusement park has introduced new and more modern rides since its establishment in 1991.
Manila is home to some of the most delicious and luxurious restaurants that give a whole lot of value to your buck. From fine dining to affordable eats, here are 15 most delicious restaurants in Manila for that ultimate gastronomical experience.
One of the most-loved first-class dining buffet restaurants in Manila is Spiral in Sofitel Philippines Plaza. As the flagship restaurant of the hotel, it aims to provide the most dynamic interactive dining experience in Asia and the ultimate buffet experience in Manila with its 21 Ateliers which include L’Ecailler, Rotisserie, Churrasco, Asian Noodles, Filipino and La Patisserie, to name a few. Should you wish to dine in an intimate fashion for a meeting with friends, family celebration, or romantic dinner for two, Spiral offers a private dining experience with only the best cuisines from the best chefs in the world. It’s indeed all class at Spiral.
Nestled inside one of the 5-star hotels in Manila, The Manila Hotel, is Cafe Ilang-Ilang. Cafe Ilang-Ilang, headed by Executive Chef Konrad Walter, offers three dining periods with themed dinner buffet and live cooking stations. Take your pick from the usual Filipino dishes to the somewhat exotic ones like the Pampanga-style Batuteng Tugak (stuffed frogs with ground pork), deer, wild pig, and balut. Cafe Ilang-Ilang also offers diverse cuisines which include Korean, Italian, and Japanese. Those with a sweet tooth are in for a treat at the cafe’s confectionery line. At Cafe Ilang-Ilang, you’re dining experience is both a feast for the eyes and to the tummy as well.
Another fine dining restaurant in one of the finest hotels in Manila, New World Manila Bay Hotel, is Li Li. Discover in Li Li why Cantonese cuisine is one of the greatest cuisines in the world. The chefs from Hong Kong showcase their skills on Cantonese dishes by using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients for cooking to deliver to its avid eaters. Li Li also offers the best kinds of wine from its cellar and exceptional tea from its tea bar. Head on to Li Li to get the best Cantonese fix you can ever have.
Another fine dining place inside Sofitel Philippines Plaza is Le Bar. Le Bar is a combination of bar, bistro, and patisserie in one. One of the unique offerings of Le Bar is its intercontinental breakfast buffet that has the same excellent offerings as the Spiral. With a luxurious ambience, you’re sure to enjoy your dining experience at Le Bar.
Relax in an opulent setting as you watch the beautiful sunset at Manila Bay. The Lounge is the perfect place for your cocktails and snacks with some live entertainment music in the backdrop. The Lounge is the place to be for that cozy and low vibe kind of night out with friends and family.
Get a 360 degree view of the entire skyline of Manila on Sky Deck on Bay Leaf Hotel. It offers an amazing view of the Manila Bay’s famous sunset as you sip on some classic cocktails, beer, wine, and buffet-style dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. It can get pretty crowded on weekends, so it’s best to get reservations beforehand. If you’re longing for some relaxing time with a bit of live music in the background, then head on to Sky Deck on Bay Leaf Hotel.
If fresh seafood is your thing, then Harbor View Restaurant is the place for you. The scenic view of Manila Bay makes it perfect for a romantic dream date or a casual eat out with friends and family. The gentle sea breeze, together with bright Japanese lanterns, offers a sweet escape from all the hustle and bustle of the city. Pick live seafood straight from the aquarium. You won’t run short of the freshest crabs, lobsters, and fish. The sweet and sour fish and baby squid are must-eats of the place. The restaurant is good for people watching, too. Famous personalities and celebrities have come to grace the place with their presence. It’s all wholesome fun at the Harbor View Restaurant.
Formerly called Barramundi Restaurant, My Kitchen at the Oasis at the Oasis Hotel in Paco is another must-eat place in Manila. You won’t fall short in your expectation of tasting authentic Italian cuisine in this restaurant. The Panizza, Risotto Ox Tongue, and Spaghetti Fruti di Mare are some of the best-sellers of the place. You’re in for a mouth-watering dining experience at My Kitchen at the Oasis.
The Market Cafe takes your buffet dining experience to a whole new level with its market style presentation and open-kitchen preparations. The chefs use the freshest ingredients for all your Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Western, and Filipino dishes and desserts for a first-class dining experience. Market Cafe also offers an à la carte menu in case you prefer to be served at your table.
Relive the Spanish era at Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant in the walled city of Intramuros. Its interiors are true to the designs of our colonial past. Its buffet food selection may not be as grand as those in the hotels on this list, but your taste buds are sure in for a treat of Filipino cuisine inspired by the Spanish era of our land. True to its being a heritage restaurant, the place offers cultural shows in the form of traditional Philippine dances. Get to know your roots at Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant.
Pizza lovers, rejoice! Another gem at The Bayleaf Intramuros is Raffaele Woodfired Pizza. This place serves the freshest pizza oozing with tomato and mozzarella prepared in a wood-fired oven. Whether it’s soft crust or thin crust you choose for your pizza, each pizza variant, especially the best-seller Diavola, is a feast for the taste buds. The place also offers pasta, salad, and other dishes that would best compliment your pizza dining experience at Raffaele Woodfired Pizza.
The walled city of Intramuros indeed holds wonders that are not found anywhere else in the metro. The Ilustrado Restaurant serves Filipino-Spanish dishes as simple and direct as they can be. Have your fill of Callos, Bagnet, Baked Eggplant, Paella Illustrado, and many more while taking a trip back to one of our cultural eras.
Another restaurant not to be missed in Manila is Ristorante Delle Mitre, owned by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). A step into the restaurant would immediately give you a glimpse of how Sundays are spent with family in the past while offering you the best Filipino, Spanish, and Italian dishes. Its warmly lit al fresco interiors make it so conducive for eating a warm bowl of Sinigang na Crispy Pata, Tuna Belly, Seafood Pasta with Marinara Sauce, Dried Beef Tapa, and Adobo, among others. You’re sure to leave with a happy tummy at Ristorante Delle Mitre.
Hailed as the most authentic Japanese restaurant in Manila, Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant in Diamond Hotel offers only the best Japanese dishes prepared by a Japanese chef. You get a scenic view of a rock garden with tropical plants as you dine on your Teppanyaki tables or Yakiniku room. Indulge yourself in a bowl of Assorted Sashimi, Assorted Sushi, Kaisen Ramen, and Tempura Moriawase among others. You’d definitely taste the authentic flavors of Japan at Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant.
If you fancy spicy Chinese food, head on to Szechuan House in Aloha Hotel. You would surely enjoy eating your favorite Chinese meals in this place starting off with Hot Pots, Tea-Smoked Duck, Kung Pao, Braised Pork, and many more. The menu is at prices that don’t hurt the pockets.
Manila’s hospitals are among those of the most reputable around the country for having given quality service and health care to the citizens.
Founded in 1958 by the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital has provided many people with quality health care. Its vision is to become the standard of excellent service and contribute to the development of the healthcare industry.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital offers a wide variety of medical services. Residents can practically walk in for a consultation for any type of medical concern.
Since 1956, Manila Doctors Hospital has provided holistic and medical health care that surpasses the industry standard and anticipates and responds to the needs of the patients and their families. It ranks as one of the top five hospitals in Metro Manila.
Manila Doctors Hospital is recognized by both local and international accreditors. The hospital currently holds the accreditations for ISO 9001:2015, ACCREDITATION GOLD by Accreditation Canada International (ACI), INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL FEDERATION (IHF), and United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)--all of which prove that the Manila Doctors Hospital is truly one of the top medical centers in the country.
They have a total of 37 patient services which include: Pain Management, Wellness Hub, Executive Health Check, and Marine Medical Services.
The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) is one of the university-run hospitals in Manila and is managed by none other than the UP College of Medicine. The PGH is committed to “deliver globally-competitive, cost-effective, compassionate and accessible health care to the Filipinos, to provide a world-class education to health professionals, and to generate relevant research that will impact on health policies,” which makes it not only one of the premier hospitals for medical care but also medical research.
PGH currently houses 14 medical departments within its walls: Anesthesiology, Pediatrics, Emergency, Psychiatry, Family & Community, Medicine Radiology, Medicine Rehabilitation, Medicine Neurosciences, Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Orthopedics, and Otorhinolaryngology.
The University of Santo Tomas Hospital is another university run hospital based in Manila. The UST Hospital has long been a staple of medical care since the post-war era. The hospital is run by professional doctors and the university’s own med students.
Unlike those previously mentioned, this medical care facility strives to become an excellent training, educational, and research ground for aspiring medical professionals to provide the best possible medical care there is. The importance the hospital gives to medical training and research is possibly the reason why graduates of the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery are set to become one of the leading doctors of the country.
The UST Hospital boasts of a total of 25 departments and centers dedicated to providing the best medical care. Among the 25 are Diagnostic Radiology, the St. Thomas Diabetes Center, Nuclear Medicine, and the Benavides Cancer Institute.
At the heart of downtown Manila lies Metropolitan Medical Center, a patient-centered hospital dedicated to providing excellent medical care to the country. Metropolitan Medical Center was founded in 1968 by an organization called “United Doctors Service Corporation”, whose initial vision for the hospital was originally to promote Christianity through its amazing health care. The 1970s saw the rapid growth and expansion of the facility, which quickly led to earning its reputation as one of the top hospitals with superior medical care.
Many notable public figures such as the Archbishop of the Philippines and several former Philippine Presidents have entrusted their health and their lives under the careful expertise of the Metropolitan Medical Center.
The hospital has several areas of expertise which include: acupuncture, allergology, cosmetic surgery, colorectal surgery, geriatric medicine, neurosurgery, and reconstructive microsurgery.
Home to some of the oldest educational institutions in the country, Manila’s schools and universities have been pioneers of quality education--providing their students with a bright future.
When one thinks of Manila, the University of Santo Tomas is one of the things that often come to mind. As the continent’s oldest university and one of the largest Roman Catholic universities in Asia, the University of Santo Tomas is one paramount figure in Manila. It is the only university in the Philippines that hold the titles as “the Royal, Pontifical, and Catholic University of the Philippines”. Its mission is to “dedicate herself to the generation, advancement, and transmission of knowledge to form competent and compassionate professionals, committed to the service of the Church, the nation, and the global community.”
As previously mentioned, UST also runs one of the most reputable hospitals within the country called, the University of Santo Tomas Hospital--which provides the professionals, graduates, and the students a great avenue to practice their field of expertise.
Many prominent historical figures and even contemporary public ones have graduated from UST, including Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini, Tony Tan-Caktiong, and Nick Joaquin. UST is the only university in the country to have been visited by three popes on four different occasions.
The university has been awarded by CHED with a total of 13 centers of excellence (Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Medical Technology, Medicine, Music, Nursing, Pharmacy, Philosophy, Psychology, Teacher Education, and Tourism) and a total of 11 centers of development (Civil Engineering, Communication, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Information Technology, Journalism, Library and Information Science, Literature, Mechanical Engineering, and Physical Therapy)
At the heart of Taft Avenue lies De La Salle University (DLSU), an educational institute run by a French religious congregation called, the De La Salle Brothers. It currently places in the 800-1,000 bracket of the World University Rankings and entered the 201-259 ranking bracket for the Asia-Pacific University Rankings in 2019--making DLSU the second best university in the country.
The university does not only value quality education but the formation of its students as well as seen in the university’s motto is “Religio, Mores, Cultura” or in English, “Religion, Morals, Culture”. DLSU’s support for their performing arts and sports communities also provide more evidence to this statement.
Like UST, many prominent public figures have graduated from DLSU as well—including: Jaime Sin (known for his valor and contribution during the EDSA Revolution, Leandro Locsin (a national artist), and Jose de Venecia, Jr. (former speaker of the house of representatives).
CHED has accredited DLSU with 14 centers of excellence in its academic programs (Accountancy, Biology, Business Administration, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Electronics and Communications Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Industrial Engineering, Information Technology, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, and Teacher Education) and 5 centers of development (Computer Engineering, History, Literature, Political Science, and Statistics).
Also located along Taft Avenue is Manila Science High School (MaSci)—the first ever science high school to be established in the Philippines. Its creation can be credited to the passing of Republic Act 1606, Republic Act 2067, DepEd’s Department Orders 1 and 5, series of 1958, and Municipal Resolution 426.
Manila Science High School was originally envisioned to model after Bronx High School of Science. Its special science curriculum was designed to meet the needs of gifted scholars in science and mathematics but also provide training, opportunities, and experiences outside the realm of math and science as well.
According to MaSci’s mission statement, the purpose of the school is to “Provide relevant and quality education through its Special Science Curriculum, its empowered school manager and staff, its committed, dedicated and well-trained learning facilitators and support personnel and its linkages with various publics for the development of active, productive, morally upright and development-oriented Filipinos.”
Included among its list of notable alumni are Cristeta Pasia Comerford, the first woman and Filipino to be appointed as the chief cook for The White House; Von Glenn Hernandez, an environmental activist and awardee of the Goldman Environmental Prize; Beethoven V. Bunagan, an actor and a comedian; more famously known as Michael V; and Louie Mar Gangcuangco, author of the bestselling novel “Orosa-Nakpil, Malate” and an HIV-AIDS activist.
The City of Manila may not have skyways and massive superhighways, but public utility vehicles and existing train systems can help you navigate Manila’s centuries-old street that never seem to sleep.
UV Express shuttles from south of Manila pass through Pasay then proceed along scenic Roxas Boulevard to get to Manila. Drop off point is Manila City Hall or the Lawton Passenger Terminal. There are jeepneys that can take you from there to various points in Manila.
One can ride a jeep from Philcoa, Cubao, Aurora Boulevard, or Quezon Avenue to get to Quiapo. From Quiapo, one can take a jeep to various points in the city.
The Manila Light Rail Transit (LRT) System Line 1 spans 19.65 kilometers on a fully elevated route. It has 12 stations in the city of Manila: Vito Cruz, Quirino, Pedro Gil, United Nations, Central Terminal, Carriedo, Doroteo Jose, Bambang, Tayuman, Blumentritt, Abad Santos, and R. Papa.
The Doroteo Jose Station connects to the Recto Station of LRT Line 2. It then passes through the following stations in Manila: Legarda, Pureza, and V. Mapa.
The Philippine National Railway (PNR) System passes through Vito Cruz, San Andres, Paco, Pandacan, Sta. Mesa, Laon Laan, Tutuban, and España.
This year, 2019, marks the beginning of the 37.9-kilometer PNR North 1 project, which will connect Tutuban to Malolos, Bulacan – significantly cutting down on travel time.
While metered taxis are still available, an increasing number of commuters have embraced TNVS such as Grab Ph to travel to, from, and around Manila.
If you want to beat rush-hour traffic consider Angkas, a motorcycle-hailing platform operating around Manila since 2016.
“Manila, Manila…I keep coming back to Manila,” as the popular song goes. Love it or hate it, there’s simply no place like Manila. Whether you only have a day or you’re planning to move in, there’s a lot of things to see and do. Here are a few of our favorites.
Established in 1594, Binondo transports you to a different world. Enjoy authentic Chinese dishes, schedule an acupuncture appointment, learn more about Chinese medicine, and shop for delicacies, jewelry, lucky charms, and so much more. Plan a visit during the Lunar New Year for an exhilarating experience.
Get lost in the labyrinth that is Divisoria and emerge victorious as you find fabrics, kitchenware, apparel, accessories, and just about anything you can imagine at really affordable prices. Overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the streets? Head over to 168 and 999 shopping centers, both of which are air conditioned and have food courts so you can refuel after an exciting day of bargain hunting. Come in your most comfortable attire and be prepared to haggle!
Aside from showcasing local flora and fauna (for example, the skeleton of Loloy, the notorious 6.1 meter, 1,075 kilogram crocodile, is suspended above Ayala Hall), the building is a visual treat in itself. The DNA Tree of Life is said to be the museum’s iconic architectural feature. Admission is free.
Reflect and meditate in Manila’s most beautiful churches: Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, Quiapo Church (also known as the Basilica of the Black Nazarene), San Sebastian Church, Malate Church, Paco Church, and the Abbey Church of Our Lady of Montserrat (which is within San Beda College in Mendiola).
Book a Manila Bay Dinner Cruise and savour a romantic meal while witnessing the legendary Manila Bay sunset.
Wake up really early and jog along the scenic Baywalk. If you want to be a dragon boat paddler, you can observe the teams training in the area and see if you’re up to the challenge.
Bambike Tours takes you around Intramuros via a unique and eco-friendly bike.
Manila Ocean Park gives visitors a sneak peek into the amazing creatures that live under the sea. It’s a great way to introduce kids to how important marine ecosystems are and what they can do to protect them.
At 60 hectares, Rizal Park or Luneta Park is considered as one of the largest urban parks in Asia. It was where national hero Jose Rizal was executed in 1896 and it was also where the Philippines declared its independence from the US in 1946. Aside from valuable history lessons, it’s a great place for a picnic, where the little ones can run around and play.
Designed by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin, the Cultural Center of the Philippines has ballet performances, concerts, theatre productions, and indie film screenings all year round.
Meaningful Travels Ph organizes tours around Quiapo’s Muslim Quarter. Visit the Manila Golden Mosque and Cultural Center, and have a taste of Halal food. See Islam and the Muslim community in the Philippines in a different light.
Have dinner at the Sky Deck of Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros and take in 360-degree views of the city.
Have your fortune read, shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, bring home a kilo or more of the legendary Excelente Ham, and make your way to that area under the famous bridge for local handicrafts – these make for perfect souvenirs for visiting expats and are a lovely addition to any home.
Known as the “Chinatown” of Manila, Binondo is famous for its culture, businesses, and food.
Binondo is named as the oldest Chinatown in the world--having been established in 1594 by the Spaniards for the Catholic Chinese. Prior to World War 2, Binondo was the center of banking and finances with insurance companies and commercial banks formerly gathered around the place. Binondo today is a center of commerce and trade in Manila where a variety of its businesses are run mostly by people from Filipino-Chinese descents.
One famous former resident of Binondo is St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino priest, and the first Filipino saint, who served in Binondo Church during his youth. The Binondo Church has since been renamed as the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz in honor of his martyrdom for the Christian Faith.
Apart from the rich history and commercial culture in the place, Binondo is also known for being a great go-to food crawl area. Some key points of interest for a possible Binondo food crawl are Ongpin Street, Yuchengo Street, and Nueva Street.
For more specific Binondo food crawl suggestions, residents or tourists can try out the following restaurants and food stalls: Dong Bei Dumplings, Cafe Mezzanine, Eng Bee Tin, New Po Heng, and Sincerity.
Quite like Binondo, Malate also serves as a center for commerce in Manila. Malate during the Spanish Era was a small fishing village. As with most of the country, it is then center of activity was, of course, a religious center, the Malate Church, which was dedicated to our Lady of Remedies. In the American era, the colonizers had a different vision for the district of Malate. They envisioned to develop the area to become the newest exclusive residential area for American families. The Americans and the Mestizo families populated the district in its new modern high rise apartments and bungalows. After the war, many of the houses and buildings remained untouched by the disasters surrounding the place. The wealthy families that once lived there returned after the war and Malate was kept as an exclusively residential district until the 1970s.
In the 1970s, western Malate began to transform from being a residential area to becoming a commercial one with the former residents moving out or converting their large homes and apartments into hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
Malate further became a commercial district during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos. Both visual and performing artists started gathering and inhibiting the area--turning it into a bohemian enclave.
Ermita can be considered as the heart of Manila, has been a significant center of education, finance, culture, and commerce for Manila for decades. Ermita gained prominence during the American colonial period. The district was formerly known as the university district, having contained a number of colleges and universities which included: Philippine Normal University, Assumption College, and the former campus of Ateneo de Manila. The residential part of Ermita was mainly populated by American residents who truly livened things up.
It was after World War 2 that Ermita shifted from being a primarily residential and university district into a commercial one since the former residents decided to move to other nearby cities and some colleges were destroyed by the bombing of Manila.
The district serves as the civic center of the city--containing a large portion of Manila’s employment, business, and entertainment activities. It also houses the seat of city government within its streets. Apart from the city hall, however, many government offices are also found within its borders. Museums, universities, and famous landmarks can also be found within Ermita. One of these notable landmarks is Rizal Park or more commonly known as Luneta Park.
There are commercial centers to be found in Ermita as well, attracting the upper and middle-class families and the students from the University Belt. Included among Ermita’s list of commercial centers are Robinsons Place Manila and SM City Manila.
For more specific Binondo food crawl suggestions, residents or tourists can try out the following restaurants and food stalls: Dong Bei Dumplings, Cafe Mezzanine, Eng Bee Tin, New Po Heng, and Sincerity.
Unlike those previously mentioned, Santa Ana is known for its architectural heritage called the “Santa Ana Heritage District”, which comprised of a variety of historic ancestral houses, the Santa Ana Church, the 300-year-old image of Our Lady of the Abandoned Manila, and Plaza Hugo.
Additionally, archaeological excavations within the Santa Ana Church have revealed the antiquity of the district, dating back its existence to around 900 to 1,000 years. Chinese ceramics from the Sung and Ming dynasties were found among the burials, indicating that the early communities within Santa Ana participated in maritime trade among the Southeast Asian Nations and China itself around the 12th to 15th century AD.
Furthermore, Santa Ana was also formerly the center of the ancient polity of Namayan. According to a 19th-century Franciscan scholar and missionary named Felix Huerta, the Namayans trace back their roots to a ruler named Lakan Tagkan and his wife, Buwan, who was said to have resided in the district. Lakan Tagkan and Buwan were also said to have dominion over the neighboring Manila districts of Malate, Quiapo, and Sampaloc.
Apart from this, the district of Santa Ana’s geographical location is something to take note of since it’s the only district in Manila which is found north and south of the Pasig River.
Santa Mesa is another of Manila’s top 5 neighborhoods. The district’s name was said to have come from the Jesuits who called the area Santa Mesa de la Misericordia or in English, “Holy Table of Mercy”. The local parish church was called the “Sacred Heart of Jesus”, which together with the district name, formed part of the phrase the “Center of the Table is the Sacred Heart which all Graces and Mercy flowed down”.
Another, perhaps more popular, folk etymology of the Santa Mesa name is a corruption of the Spanish term, Santa Misa, which means Holy Mass.
During the Spanish era, Santa Mesa was formerly a part of the Sampaloc district. It was partitioned and separated from Sampaloc in 1911 after establishing its own parish in that same year. The parish is now known as the Old Sta. Mesa (Poblacion), a street lining from Victorino Mapa Street to Magsaysay Boulevard.
In the 1950s, Santa Mesa witnessed a suburban growth due to its proximity to central Manila. The Santa Mesa Market, a big shopping complex, was constructed around the same period and was popular for selling Post eXchange goods from the U.S. bases in the Philippines.
Particular sites of interests found within the area are Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the Carriedo Mansion.