Sights in Manila include interesting historical sites, centuries-old churches, lovely parks, a botanical garden, a zoo and a number of small and sometimes charming museums, such as the the Ayala and Museo. The Philippine National Museum, which was almost totally destroyed during World War II, has permanent, mostly scientific and historical, exhibitions and occasional exhibits of Philippine art and artifacts. The are also a fair number of small galleries, with mostly modern art.

Malacanang Palace, former home of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, is now a museum, with memorabilia from the Marcos era. Intramuros (meaning within the walls) is the old Spanish part of Manila. It contains two old churches, Plaza Roma with its statue to the three martyred priests, and Fort Santiago, with the Rizal Museum. Casa Manila in the heart of Intramuros, is a model of a 19th-century upper-class urban home. Intramuros itself is heavily fortified and combines interesting Asian, Occident, Old World and New World elements.

Liza Constantino wrote: The Philippines is “the best place to discover that the fun things in life can be free” — or at least cheap. “Enjoy the sound of horse-drawn carriages called kalesas when you visit the walled city of Intramuros. Built in the Spanish colonial period, see century-old structures within it like the Philippines’ oldest existing church, San Agustin Church — also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At Rizal Park, the Philippines’ national hero Jose Rizal seems to have picked a good spot to rest. Stop by his monument on your way to the park’s open-air auditorium. It hosts free events like film screenings, ballets and theatrical performances by local and foreign artists.

“When it’s time to end your day, follow the sun. Manila Bay offers one of the world’s best sunset views and is a favorite spot of photographers and locals. Further south, you’ll see the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It’s the hotspot of the country’s best theatrical, musical, and dance performances. Foreign acts and Broadway shows are also regularly shown here. Then hop on a cab and head to nearby SM Mall of Asia,” one of the world’s largest malls — “shopping or no shopping, it’s something to see.”

“A relatively new development, Bonifacio Global City — popularly known as The Fort — has become a good spot to enjoy clean, pocket parks. Join the mix of runners, bikers, and pet lovers who favor its less congested roads. Navigate the artwalks found within and around Bonifacio High Street, like a sundial sculpture and interactive floor chimes, all by Filipino artists....Learn the Filipino value of bayanihan or community spirit by contributing your time and talents to a cause. Gawad Kalinga (To give care) is an NGO that believes in building communities to eradicate poverty. Volunteer to help put up a house for a deserving family. Or share your knowledge and skills in agriculture, entrepreneurship or tourism. People from all backgrounds are welcome to lend a hand.”

Manila Bay

Manila Bay is huge semicircular harbor filled with anchored and moving ships. It's entrance is 48 kilometers (30 miles) across and is divided into two channels: one by the island of Corregidor and the other by the island of Cabbalo. The northern channel of Boca Chica ("Little Mouth") is three and half kilometers wide; the southern channel at Boca Grande is divided by the small island of El Fraile and has a usable width of five kilometers.

Manila Bay, as every Philippine tourist brochure will tell you, is also a wonderful place to watch sunsets. Some evening when the weather is just right the clouds slowly change in color from white to pink and violet and rose, and then explode into ruby red with flickers of gold as the sun slips into the South China Sea.

Spanish rule in the Philippines ended and United States rule started in August 1898, after enduring for more than 300, when years U.S. Admiral Dewey entered the bay and destroyed the Spanish fleet there in the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish-American War.

In 1966, when the The Beatles played in Manila, the Beatles toured Manila Bay when Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos thought they would be visited him.. Danee Samonte wrote on ““Unbeknownst to The Beatles, the concert promoter Ramon Ramos committed to the Marcos family that they would eat lunch at Malacañang Palace (the official residence of the current Philippine President) as special guests of the first family. Because the arrangement wasn’t made with Brian Epstein, The Beatles weren’t able to attend to the disappointment of not only the First Family but also the cabinet secretaries, senators, congressmen and VIPs who were there to welcome them. [Source: Danee Samonte, October 9, 2011 \=]

“The two concerts the next day at the Rizal Memorial Stadium were staged successfully and without incident, but the following day when they were on the way to the airport all hell broke loose. Their security escort was gone, The Beatles had to carry their own gear and take a taxicab. All courtesies and VIP privileges were removed. Upon reaching the airport, no porters helped, the escalators were turned off so they had to lug their baggage up two flights of stairs where an angry crowd mobbed the entourage causing injury. To make matters worse, their flight got delayed due to customs officials and airport personnel hassling them. When The Beatles were finally allowed to leave, they swore never to return to the Philippines.”

Battle of Manila Bay

Dewey guessed correctly that danger of mines was "negligible" and slipped by the fortifications at the entrance of Manila Bay at night while the guards and gunnners were sleeping at their posts. The fortification at El Friale got off four shots. The batteries at Corregidor and Cabaalo delivered “none at all."

The Spanish commander, Adm. Patrico Montojo, had requested backup and more supplies from Spain but they never arrived. When news arrived that the Americans were in Manila Bay, he positioned his forces at the southern end of the bay in a place called Cavite, reportedly to spare Manila the shelling from an attack and because the waters there were shallow enough that his men could escape with their lives if the ships were sunk.

The sea battle lasted only three hours. Not a single American was killed by enemy fire and only eight were wounded, none seriously. In contrast 381 Spaniards were killed or wounded. Dewey moved his ships to a range from the Spanish ships where his guns could hit their ships but their guns couldn't hit his. He gave the order, "you may fire when you are ready," and the American ships pounded away and found their mark at a distance of 2,000 yards. All but one of Spanish ships were sunk. Only one American ship was hit and it remained afloat with no deaths.

The sinking of the Spanish fleet meant that 15,000 Spanish soldiers were holed up in Intramuros— the Walled City of Manila—cut off from supplies and reinforcements. Three months later 11,000 American soldiers were in the Philippines and the 250,000 people in Manila were starving and sick. Their water supply had been cut off and people were eating horses and cats.

Messages were sent back and forth between Dewey and the Spanish commander in Manila, General Fermin Jaudenes. A face-saving charade was worked out that the Americans would "attack" the fortification of Manila and the Spanish surrender. At 9:35am on August 13, 1898, American forces sent shells flying in the direction of Spanish positions but as planned none caused any serious damage. At 11:20 Jaudenes raised a white flag in surrender. Six Americans were killed in various accidents.


Intramuros is the walled city of Old Manila. Covering 64 hectares (158 acres) and surrounded by 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) of walls, it houses the old town of Manila, Manila Cathedral, San Augustin church and monastery, two of the oldest churches in the Philippines, Plaza Roma with its statue to the three martyred priests, and Fort Santiago, with the Rizal Museum. Construction of Intramuros began soon after the Spanish arrived in 1571. Its walls grew to be 16 meters (50 feet) thick and six meters (20 feet) high, The fort was badly damaged by the the bombing in World War II and now is only a shadow its former self. San Augustin Church, built between 1587 and 1606, was the only building in Intramuros to survive the bombing.

San Augustin Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The the San Augustin Museum contains fine religious artifacts and relics from the Galleon Trade — from treasure chests to ivory santos (saints) to gold embroidered vestments. Juan Luna, one of the greatest Filipino painters, is interred here. Casa Manila, a lifestyle museum replicated from an 1800s home, is also in the area. The guards and the owners of the kalesas (horse-drawn carriages) are dressed in period costumes.

Intramuros literally means “within the walls”. It served as the heart of Manila's political, religious and cultural life from its founding in 1571. The walled settlement itself is a unique combination of the Asian, Western, Old World and New World encircled by walls of made Asian materials in a tropical land. Even in their decaying state, the walls remain today as a monument to the Spanish era of Philippine history.

Mynardo Macaraig of AFP wrote: It “walls surrounded most of the government's offices as well as major churches, schools and trading centres during the three centuries the country was under Spanish rule, which ended in 1898. It was designed with walls, gates and gun emplacements to protect the Spanish residents from the Filipino masses, as well as guard the mouth of Manila's main river, the Pasig. Chinatown was also famously placed within cannonball distance of Intramuros so the Spanish could fire down on the Chinese traders whenever they became too troublesome. [Source: Mynardo Macaraig, AFP, June 10, 2011]

“But Intramuros started falling into decline after the Spanish left, with most of the damage occuring during World War II when US forces shelled Japanese troops hiding inside the walls. Many historic buildings, including nine of the 10 churches within Intramuros, were destroyed in the war. Some of these derelict structures are still standing, a reminder of the area's lost grandeur. Over the centuries, earthquakes and fires have also taken their toll.

“And while Intramuros's value is in its history, modern pressures have continued to erode its structures. Parts of Intramuros today include a busy commercial and government district, containing several government offices, four major universities and a variety of businesses. All of this results in congestion, noise, frequent traffic jams and a chronic lack of parking space. The area also houses more than 3,000 families of squatters who often can be seen asking tourists for alms while their shanties and graffiti mar the image of the walled city.”

Intramuros: A Waterfront Food and Entertainment Area?

Mynardo Macaraig of AFP wrote: After enduring wars, earthquakes, fires and poverty-driven neglect, the walled city of Intramuros that makes up the Philippine capital's historic centre may rise again as a tourist attraction. Government planners see the UNESCO World Heritage listed but famously dilapidated site becoming one of Manila's biggest drawcards, similar to Singapore's Clarke Quay but with the added colour of centuries of history. "We're going to make this the 'in' place to be," said Intramuros Administration chief Jose Capistrano. "It will be a living Intramuros with tabernas and tapas," he said, referring to Spanish-style restaurants and their signature finger snacks. Eventually, the administration hopes to have fireworks displays and light shows projected on the structure's six-meter (20-foot) high walls at night, Capistrano told reporters. The ambitious project will involve rehabilitating and reconstructing buildings, as well as developing a riverside area called the Maestranza Park into a mall for upmarket restaurants and shops. [Source: Mynardo Macaraig, AFP, June 10, 2011]

“But this endeavour will require tens of millions of dollars in investments which the cash-strapped government cannot afford, so it is hoping the private sector will sign up. Administration officials have been meeting with some of the country's real estate giants to drum up their interest in investing in the project, and Capistrano said their reactions had been very favourable. "They are interested in the projects. We feel confident that they will be coming in," he told AFP.

Capistrano said that, although a definitive cost estimate for the renovation had not yet been finalised, the potential investors were not intimidated by the large scope of the project. "No one said it might cost too much. The reaction when we tell them what these projects are has been very good," he said, adding he hoped to start a bidding process by the end of the year. Capistrano said the administration had limited power to evict the squatters. Many of them are on private property and are protected by laws designed to help the urban poor.

Tourism professionals operating in the area look forward to the upgrade but question whether the government can deliver amid the deterioration, overcrowding and squalor that have become common in parts of Intramuros. "We need restructuring of the buildings, getting rid of the slumdwellers, beautifying the place. There is so much garbage, there are eyesores," said Jose Mananzan, head of the Intramuros Tourism Council. Nevertheless, even without private investors, the government has taken the first step, spending 150 million pesos ($3.5 million) to turn the ruined shell of a church into a museum housing religious artifacts, Capistrano said.

Portions of the old historic wall in Maestranza that were torn down in the 1900s have also already been reconstructed through a Japanese grant, he said. This time, instead of housing gunpowder and cannon balls, the wall's vaulted inner chambers will hopefully house cafes and shops. More restoration work is underway at the Intramuros's garrison of Fort Santiago, where workers trained under a Spanish government grant are pulling down cement walls and replacing them with more authentic adobe and lime. Under the Spanish programme, two masons from Mexico taught the Filipinos how to mix lime and shape stone to recreate the original look of the building, which will become the new Intramuros visitors' centre. "We replaced the old timber that had rotted but we are bringing it back to its original look," said the workers' foreman, Jose de Lara.”

Buildings Inside Intramuros

Manila Cathedral (inside Intramuros) is the seat of Catholic Archdiocese of Manila. It was originally built in 1581, but has been destroyed and rebuilt six times after earthquakes, typhoons, war and fire. Casa Manila is a model of a 19th-century upper-class urban home. It contains beautiful 16th to 17th century furniture.

Fort Santiago was the headquarters of the Spanish military and the home of a prison in which thousands of Filipinos, including the country's national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, were kept. Built on the bay side of Intramuros on a site originally occupied by the palace of Malay sultan, it was also used by Japanese as a prison in World War II. During the Battle of Manila in 1945, Fort Santiago was captured after an eight-day siege by American soldiers who pounded their way through dirt and concrete barriers, two stories high and 40 feet thick, only to find the bodies of 600 dead Filipinos and Americans in the dungeons.

Rizal Shrine (in a restored section of Fort Santiago) is a shrine set up in the room where Rizal was kept before he was executed. It contains sketches, paintings and manuscripts by Rizal. Rizal was executed here in 1896, triggering the Philippine Revolution. There is a monument with his remains. Every night, the life and death of Rizal is brought to life in light and sound show.

Rizal Park (short jeepney ride from Intramuros) is a wide expanse of manicured lawns with Japanese and Chinese gardens, numerous fountains, an open-air auditorium, a skating rink, and a huge three dimensional topographical map of the Philippines that can be viewed from a three meter high platform.

San Augustin Church

San Augustin Church (near Manila Cathedral inside Intramuros) was built in 1587 by the Augustinian Order. It houses a lovely monastery, 26 large oil paintings of saints,68 stalls carved in molave wood, and an extensive collections of religious images and ecclesiastical artifacts. San Augustin Church was built between 1587 and 1606. It was the only building in Intramuros to survive the bombing during World War II.

The interior of the San Agustin church features traces of the original wall painting done in the Mexican style can still be seen. The trompe l’oeil interior painting done in the late 19th century influenced the interior painting of many Philippine churches. The structural design of the church was ahead of its time. It is said that the structure is supported by a raft type foundation that permits the entire structure to sway during earthquakes. San Agustin church also boasts of the only examples in the country of a barrel vault, dome, and arched vestibules supporting its choir loft, all made of stone.

A monastery complex was once linked to the church by a series of cloisters, arcades, courtyards and gardens. Today the monastery and church are the repository of what is considered to be the most priceless Philippine collection of religious art, including the earliest dated retablo, wall paintings, pulpit, choir lectern, choir stalls and an important archive of books.

Baroque Churches of the Philippines

Four Baroque churches in the Philippines built by the Spanish in the late 16th to 18th centuries — located in Manila, Santa Maria, Paoay and Miag-ao — were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013 for their architectural style, a unique reinterpretation of European Baroque by Chinese and Philippine craftsmen. According to UNESCO: “The Baroque Churches of the Philippines is a serial inscription consisting of four Roman Catholic churches constructed between the 16thand the18th centuries in the Spanish period of the Philippines. They are located in separate areas of the Philippine archipelago, two at the northern island of Luzon, one at the heart of Intramuros, Manila, and the other in the central Visayas island of Iloilo.

“This group of churches established a style of building and design that was adapted to the physical conditions in the Philippines and had an important influence on later church architecture in the region. The four churches are outstanding examples of the Philippine interpretation of the Baroque style, and represent the fusion of European church design and construction with local materials and decorative motifs to form a new church-building tradition. [Source: UNESCO]

“The common and specific attributes of the churches are their squat, monumental and massive appearance, which illustrates a fortress/protective-like character in response to pirates, marauders and to the geologic conditions of a country that is prone to seismic activities. The churches are made either of stone (tuff or coralline limestone), or brick, and consolidated with lime. They display specific features such as retablos (altars) of high Baroque style — (particularly seen in San Agustin Church, Intramuros), in the volutes of contrafuertes (buttresses) and in the pyramidal finials of wall facades — (particularly seen in Paoay Church), in wall buttresses separating criptocollateral chapels –(particularly seen in San Agustin Church, Intramuros) and in the iconography of the ornately decorated naïf/folk pediment expressing the local understanding of the life of Christ and demonstrated by the use of local elements (papaya, coconut and palm tree reliefs), and the depiction of Catholic Patron Saints (St. Christopher) dressed in local and traditional clothing (particularly seen in the Miagao Church). The fusion of styles is also seen in the construction of bell towers that are either attached to the main church structure (particularly seen in San Agustin, Intramuros and in Miagao churches) or detached from the main church (particularly seen in Paoay and Sta Maria churches) and lastly, in ceiling paintings in the tromp l’oeil style (particularly seen in San Agustin Church, Intramuros). The Baroque churches reflect excellent site planning principles following the Ley de las Indias (Laws of the Indies) enacted by Philip II in 1563 for all newly-discovered settlements within Spanish colonial territories.”

Malacanang Palace

Malacanang Palace (in San Miguel on Mendiola Street) is where Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos held court for 20 years before they were thrown out in the People Power demonstration in 1986. Built by a Spanish aristocrat and enlarged and refurbished by the Marcoses, it was subjected to exorcism by a Roman Catholic priest when Aquino came to power, and then turned it into a tourist attraction to bring attention to the excesses of the Marcos regime.

For many years Malacanang Palace was the most popular tourist attraction in the Philippines. Visitors were particularly interested in viewing Imelda Marcos's 508 floor-length gowns, 15 mink coats, 888 handbags, her famous 1,220 pairs of shoes (including one battery-powered pair that glowed in the dark), and 65 parasols as well as thousands of personalized Ferdinand Marcos golf balls and his and hers bullet proof vests.

In 1997, President Ramos decided enough was enough. He ordered the removal of Imelda's possessions and a conversion of the palace into a stuffy museum on the Philippine presidency. The number of visitors to the palace plummeted. Although Malacanang Palace is not as interesting as it once was, it is worth a visit. You can still get a sense of what it was like in the Marcos years. One exhibit room is in Imelda's bedroom. Another is in her walk-in closet. Some of her shoes are now on display in a local shoe museum.

Marcos’s Last Moments at Malacanang Palace

Describing the scene at Malacañang Palace on February 24, 1986, shortly before Marcos was ousted, journalist James Fenton wrote, "Something very odd was happening. Where the vegetable garden had been (it had been planted on Imelda’s instructions, as part of some pet scheme), they were now laying a lawn. And the sculpture garden too—all the concrete statues were being smashed and carried away. The workers watched us as we passed. there were tanks by the next gate, and the security check was still in operation. “It’s extraordinary, isn’t it” someone said, “the way they keep going on as if nothing had happened. That platform—they must have been told to put it up for the inauguration. Now Marcos has gone and they’re still putting it up.” As we came through security, a voice began to speak over the public address. It was giving instructions to the military to confine itself to the use of small arms in dealing with attacks. It was outlining Marcos’s supposed policy of the whole election campaign—Maximum Tolerance. “Whose voice is that?” I asked. “It’s Marcos. It must be a recording.” [Source: Excerpt from“The Snap Revolution,” in All the Wrong Places by James Fenton (London: Viking Penguin, 1989) ~]

“We ran up the grand staircase and turned right into the ante-room. And there sat Marcos himself, with Imelda and the family all around him, and three or four generals to the right. They had chosen the ante-room rather than the main hall, for there were only a few journalists and cameramen, and yesterday’s great array of military men was nowhere to be seen. I looked very closely at Marcos and thought: it isn’ t him. It looked like ectoplasm. Like the Mighty Mekon. It was talking in a precise and legalistic way, which contrived to sound both lucid and utterly nonsensical. It had its left hand under the table, and I watched the hand for a while to see whether it was being deliberately concealed. But it wasn’t. ~

“General Ver was quivering and in an evident panic. I wondered whether his gums had swollen. He stepped forward and asked for permission to bomb Camp Crame. There were two government F-5 jets circling over it, he said. (Just outside the palace someone had told me that the crowd at Camp Crame appeared to think that these jets were on their side, for they cheered every time the aircraft cameover.) Marcos told Ver they were not to be used. Ver’s panic increased.“The Air Force, sir, is ready to attack were the civilians to leave the vicinity of Camp Crame immediately, Mr. President. That’s why I came here on your orders so we can immediately strike them. We have to immobilize the helicopters that they got.” (Marcos had sent helicopter gunships against the camp, but the pilots had come out waving white flags and joined the rebels.) ~

“Marcos broke in with tired impatience, as if this had been going on all through the night and he was sick and tired of Ver. “My order is not to attack. No, no, no. Hold on; not to attack.”Ver was going wild. “Our negotiations and our prior dialogue have not succeeded, Mr. President.”Marcos: “All I can say is that we may have to reach the point we may have to employ heavy weapons, but you will use the small weapons in hand or shoulder weapons in the meantime.”Ver said: “Our attack forces are being delayed.” The Christian Science Monitor,at my elbow, said: “This is absurd. It’s a Mutt-and-Jeff act.”Ver said: “There are many civilians near our troops, and we cannot keep on withdrawing. We cannot withdraw all the time, Mr. President.” ~

“All this was being broadcast live on Channel Four, which Marcos could see on a monitor. Ver finally saluted, stepped backwards and left with the other officers. I forget who they were, just as Marcos, when he introduced them to us, had forgotten all their names and needed prompting. Now the family withdrew as well. An incident then occurred whose significance I didn’t appreciate at the time. The television began to emit white noise. A soldier stepped forward and fiddled with the knobs. The other channels were working, but Channel Four had been knocked off the air. The rebels had taken the government station, which Marcos must have realized. But he hardly batted an eyelid. It was as if the incident were some trivial disturbance, as if the television were simply on the blink.” ~

Looting of Malacanang Palace

Marcos fled the Philippines in a U.S. Air Force H-3 helicopter on February 25th, with his family and crates of pesos and jewelry. After the Marcoses fled Malacañang Palace— the palace that had been their residence for two decades—and were on their way to exile in Hawaii, Manila's masses surged into the building to witness firsthand for themselves the excesses of the Marcos regime (including Imelda's famous shoe collection, consisting of hundreds of pairs of expensive, often unworn, shoes).

After Marcos fled Fenton went to Malacañang Palace, "I turned back and walked down the center of the road to Malacañang, my feet crunching broken glass and stones. I asked a policeman whether he thought it safe to proceed. Yes, he said, there were a few Marcos men hiding in the side streets,but the fighting had all stopped. A child came running past me and called out,“Hey Joe, what’s the problem?” but didn’t wait for an answer. As I came within view of the palace I saw that people were climbing over therailings, and just as I caught up with them a gate flew open. Everyone was pouring in and making straight for the old Budget Office. It suddenly occurred to me that very few of them knew where the palace itself was. Documents were flyingout of the office and the crowd was making whoopee. I began to run. [Source: Excerpt from“The Snap Revolution,” in All the Wrong Places by James Fenton (London: Viking Penguin, 1989) ~]

“Bing was just behind me, looking seraphically happy, with his cameras bobbing round his neck. We pushed our way through to a kind of hall, where an armed civilian told us we could go no further. The journalists crowded round him, plead-ing to be allowed a look. The man had been sent by the rebel troops. He had given his word of honor, he said. He couldn’t let anybody past. But it was all, I’m afraid, too exciting. One of the Filipino photographers just walked past the guard, then another followed, then Bing went past; and finally I was the only one left. I thought: oh well, he hasn’t shot them, he won’t shoot me. I scuttled past him in that way people do when they expect to be kicked up the backside. “Hey, man, stop,” said the guard, but as he followed me around the corner we both saw he had been standing in the wrong place: the people in the crowd had come around another way and were now going through boxes and packing-cases to see what they could find. There were no takers for the Evian water. But everything else was disappearing. ~

“I caught up with Bing, who was looking through the remains of a box of monogrammed towels. We realized they had Imelda’s initials. There were a couple left. They were irresistible. I couldn’t believe I would be able to find the actual Marcos apartments, and I knew there was no point in asking. We went up some servants’ stairs, at the foot of which I remember seeing an opened crate with two large green jade plates. They were so large as to be vulgar. On the first floor a door opened, and we found ourselves in the great hall where the press conferences had been held. This was the one bit of the palace the crowd would recognize, as it had so often watched Marcos being televised from here. ~

“People ran and sat on his throne and began giv-ing mock press conferences, issuing orders in his deep voice, falling about with laughter or just gaping at the splendor of the room. It was all fully lit. Nobody had bothered, as they left, to turn out the lights. I remembered that the first time I had been here, the day after the election, Imelda had slipped in and sat at the side. She must have come from that direction. I went to investigate. And now, for a short while, I was away from the crowd with just one other per-son, a shy and absolutely thunderstruck Filipino. We had found our way, we real-ized, into the Marcoses’ private rooms. There was a library, and my companion gazed in wonder at the leather-bound volumes while I admired the collection of art books all carefully catalogued and with their numbers on the spines. This was the reference library for Imelda’s worldwide collection of treasures. She must have thumbed through them thinking: I’d like one of them, or I’ve got a couple of them in New York, or That’s in our London house. ~

“And then there was the Blue Drawing Room with its twin portraits of the Marcoses, where I simply remember standing with my companion and saying, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it.” It wasn’t that it was beautiful. It looked as if it had been purchased at Harrods. It was just that, after all the crowds and riots, we had landed up in this peaceful, luxurious den. My companion had never seen anything like it. He didn’t take anything. He hardly dared touch the furnishings and trinkets. We both simply could not believe that we were there and the Marcoses weren’t.I wish I could remember it all better. For instance, it seemed to me that in every room I saw, practically on every available surface, there was a signed photograph of Nancy Reagan. But this can hardly be literally true. It just felt as if there was a lot of Nancy in evidence. ~

“Another of the rooms had a grand piano. I sat down.“Can you play?” said my companion.“A little,” I exaggerated. I can play Bach’s Prelude in C, and this is what I pro-ceeded to do, but my companion had obviously hoped for something more racy. A soldier came in, carrying a rifle. “Please cooperate,” he said. The soldier looked just as overawed by the place as we were. We co-operated. When I returned down the service stairs, I noticed that the green jade plates were gone, but there was still some Evian water to be had. I was very thirsty, as it happened. But the revolution had asked me to cooperate. So I did. Outside, the awe had communicated itself to several members of the crowd. They stood by the fountain looking down at the colored lights beneath the water, not saying anything. I went to the parapet and looked across the river. I thought: somebody’s still fighting; there are still some loyal troops. Then I thought: that’s crazy—they can’t have started fighting now. I realized that I was back in Saigon yet again. There in deed there had been fighting on the other side of the river. Buthere it was fireworks. The whole city was celebrating.” ~

Philippine Film Center

Philippine Film Center (Roxas Avenue on Manila Bay) is the concrete structure commissioned by Imelda Marcos for Manila's first festival in 1981. The building was intended to emulate the Parthenon in Athens, but only bigger and grander. The structure was the centerpiece of Imelda’s Her "beatification" projects, which involved taking a bulldozer to the neighborhoods of the ultra-poor and leveling their shacks. The practice was stopped whenever a major international event came to Manila such as the World Bank Conference in 1976.

On November 17, 1981, dozens of workers were killed when a scaffolding collapsed on the film festival building. The corpses were never recovered; they were simply entombed in cement so the building could be completed in time. Many people believed the building is haunted by ghosts because the workers were never given a proper burial.

Imelda help bring the Miss Universe Pageant to Manila in 1974 and put together "The History or a Race," a song and dance performance that paid tribute to Filipinos with men dressed like primitive tribesmen and World War II soldiers. The show also feature films clip of Imelda meeting Mao in China in 1974 and singing Dahil Sa Iyo, a love song for both her husband and the Philippines (with the chorus "Because of you I attained happiness/ I offer you my love/ If it is true that you shall enslave me/ All of this because of you.")

M. H. Del Pilar and Ermita-Malate area in Manila

M. H. Del Pilar used to ve situated in the heart of Manila's red light district. Girlie bars with girls parading around in pasties and negligees were mixed with karaokes, restaurants, love hotels and guest houses. Drunks and tourists walked the streets; touts tried to coax men into their bars; and the police stood around looking bored. The tragic thing about the hostesses and prostitutes here was that many of them are teenagers underneath heavy layers of make-up.

Marcelo H. del Pilar Street, also known as M.H. del Pilar Street or simply Del Pilar Street, is a north-south road running for approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) connecting Ermita and Malate districts in Manila. Ermita, once a posh area of Manila, was rebuilt after the devastation of World War II. As decades passed, it started earning a reputation as the red-light district of Manila. During the first term of Mayor Alfredo Lim, 1992-1998, an effort was made to "clean up" Ermita's image and reputation. However, a local city ordinance prohibiting the establishment of motels, lodging houses and other similar establishments, was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. As a result of the clean-up efforts, nightlife in the area dwindled though it later picked up with the help of the emergence of the nearby Malate district and the Roxas Boulevard revitalization efforts along Manila Bay.

Tracy Cabrera wrote in “From the late 40s to the 70s, the Ermita-Malate area in Manila was well-known as the city’s red light district. Foreigners, mostly American servicemen as well as their European and Australian counterparts used to wander round the narrow streets finding entertainment from several bars lined up mostly along Mabini and M.H. Del Pilar streets. Among their favorite watering holes were the Australian Club, Firehouse and Pussycat among other joints, where foreigners would eat and drink their fill and eventually find their bedmate from the many Filipinas who, after the war, were looking for an easy life in the city.

“Decades later, the bars were closed down in response to repeated calls from upstanding citizens and the Catholic Church who asked for an end to the vices that permeated from the continued existence of the girlie bars mostly owned by foreign nationals using ‘dummies’ to evade local laws. The city government’s move seemingly had a good effect since the bars were all gone (but in reality just transferred to the nearby cities, particularly Pasay and Makati).

“Now with the advent of the new millennium and more than a decade later, what seemed to have erased the stigma of Ermita and Malate as Manila’s red light district has been found to be secretly hidden when one considers the extent of the sex trade’s reach in Metro Manila. The bars actually still exist but they are no longer the singles bars and girlie joints that were well-known in their heyday. Instead they have now metamorphosed into videoke bars, karaokes and music lounges catering, they say, to those wanting to showcase their singing talents.

“Yet there are darker elements in the works. Girls are still the products being sold inside these establishments—posing as guest relations officers and waitresses assigned to assist their customers while singing and drinking. They are given employment permits only to work as waitresses so they are not supposed to sit down with their ‘guests’ as entertainers.

“However, the city government is turning a blind eye to this practice because there are really no formal complaints against the practice. The girls get jobs and get a little earning and that closes the issue. Although the night entertainment business in Ermita and Malate focuses mainly on the music lounges, there also remain three American-style singles bar in both areas: Los Angeles Café at the corner of M.H. Del Pilar and Romeo Salas streets, G-Point on Padre Faura street and the more recent Badonkadonk near L.A. Café. These three bars are mainly pick-up joints where lecherous men can choose from the several young women who frequent the place looking for those they can entertain—conversationally, gastronomically or sexually.”

Manila Hotel

Manila Hotel is said to have the best view of the sunset over Manila Harbor. Before World War II, General MacArthur lived here like a sultan with his mistress. The Manila Hotel was Manila’s first hotel. Established in 1912, it also hosted the Marlon Brando, and The Beatles, who were forced to carry their own luggage out of the hotel after Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos felt snubbed by the band and ordered that the hotel staff — and airport personnel — not assist them in way.

General Douglas MacArthur came to the Philippines in 1935 at the invitation of Manual Quezon, the man who became the Philippines’ first president in 1945. In 1937, MacArthur retired from the army but continued his work in the Philippines. Quezon gave him the rank of Field Marshall and helped set him up in a seven-room penthouse at the Manila Hotel. On his trip to the Philippines MacArthur met Jean Fairbanks, whom he later married and had a son with. The hotel is surrounded by its own landscaped park. The MacArthur Suite goes for around $2,000 a night.

When Brando stayed at the hotel in 1956 during the shooting of film, the writer Iking Garcia waited seven hours to talk to him and persisted even though every person he talked to, including producer George England and scriptwriter W. Stern, said ‘Impossible. Mr. Brando has no time for an interview.’ Finally England emerged from Brando’s Manila Hotel suite and said, ‘Mr. Brando will see you but alone.’ Afterwards Garcia wrote: ““That ‘Magnificent Slob’ they call Marlon Brando is no slob. I know. I talked to him, drank scotch and soda with him, for almost an hour, at his well-guarded suite at the Manila Hotel. And far from the unsmiling Napoleon in Desiree or the tough stevedore in On the Waterfront, the Hollywood Award winner was a perfect Gentleman.”“

Cultural Center of the Philippines

Cultural Center of the Philippines is where concerts, plays, ballet and Filipino dance performances are held. The complex also contains the Philippine International Convention Center and the Philippine International Trade Exhibit. Over the years it has hosted the Bolshoi Ballet, Frank Sinatra and Placido Domingo and was at its peak during the Marcos era. AFP reported: “But 40 years after it was controversially built along Manila Bay, the now iconic block of masonry that seems to float over water fountains at night stands as one of dictator Ferdinand Marcos's more pleasant legacies. [Source: Agence France-Presse, September 24, 2009]

“The CCP, as it is commonly known, came to being only because it was a pet project of infamous former first lady Imelda Marcos, who was accused of wasting billions of dollars on extravagant projects while disregarding the poor masses. While the nation was spiralling deeply into debt, the CCP enjoyed the spending power only the Marcoses could provide and brought the world's premier performers from Europe and the United States all the way to Manila.

“Former Filipino ballet dancer Nestor Jardin was there in the glory days of the 1970s, when the world's best ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, brought great pleasure to those in the 1,893-seat main theatre. That halcyon era also saw tenor Placido Domingo sing for the opera "Tosca", while the Bolshoi Ballet performed "Swan Lake" and Frank Sinatra cast his famous blue eyes across an enraptured audience. Jardin, who started as a ballet dancer at the center in 1973, has been its president for the past eight years and remains upbeat about its role today as a local and regional artistic hub despite hosting no global stars. "I think the CCP has helped discover, nurture and support the Filipino artist in such a way that some of them have achieved high standards of excellence recognized both here and abroad," Jardin said.

“Indeed, the world-renowned pianist Cecile Licad was nurtured at the center while Lea Salonga trained and auditioned there for her award-winning role as Kim in the Broadway musical "Miss Saigon". (Southeast Asian countries) look up to the Philippines as far as artistic talents are concerned, be they performers or visual artists or directors or choreographers," Jardin said.

Today, the center continues a steady turnover of performances that may not make the grade internationally but provides an important platform for artists in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. The center's annual festival that features young, independent local filmmakers with no commercial experience drew in a huge college-based crowd of 41,000 in July, a five-fold rise from its inaugural staging four years ago. With a philharmonic orchestra, four dance companies, a drama outfit and a choral group, the center also hosts about 500 performances, exhibitions and other artistic events every year.

“It does so on a shoestring budget compared with the Marcos era of 330 million pesos (8.68 million dollars), 47 percent from the government and the rest from private patrons. "I'm not saying that (culture) is not supported and given attention (by the government), but it's not a priority over other economic programs," Jardin said. Perhaps best illustrating the current fortunes of the CCP is that it defied critics who said there was no demand and hosted four operas this year, double its recent annual average, and sold 60-80 percent of the tickets. However Jardin said about five of its ballet dancers — nearly 10 percent of the total — were lost every year, lured by fat salaries from the likes of Hong Kong Disneyland, the American Ballet Theatre and the Singapore Dance Theatre.”

Coconut Palace

Coconut Palace (inside the Cultural Center of the Philippines) is a palace constructed almost totally from different parts of the coconut palm. Also known as Tahanang Pilipino (“Filipino Home”), it was the official residence and the principal workplace of the Vice President of the Philippines and was commissioned in 1978 by former First Lady Imelda Marcos as a government guest house. Among those who have stayed there are Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, Brooke Shields and George Hamilton. It was offered to Pope John Paul II during the Papal visit to the Philippines in 1981 but was refused to stay there because it was too opulent given the level of poverty in the Philippines.

The Coconut Palace cost PHP 37 million to build and was partly financed by the coconut levy fund, which was set up for the welfare of poor coconut farmers and is close associated Imelda Marcos' “edifice complex,” a term popularized by architectural historian Gerard Lico as the "obsession and compulsion to build edifices as a hallmark of greatness or as a signifier of national prosperity."

The Coconut Palace is made of several types of Philippine hardwood, coconut shells, and a specially engineered coconut lumber apparently known as Imelda Madera. Each of the suites on the second floor is named after a specific region of the Philippines and displays some of the handicrafts these regions produce. The palace is shaped like an octagon (the shape given to a coconut before being served), while the roof is shaped like a traditional Filipino salakot or hat. Some of its highlights are the 101 coconut-shell chandelier, and the dining table made of 40,000 tiny pieces of inlaid coconut shells — all of which demonstrate how coconut truly the “Tree of Life”. In 2004, it was a stop on the reality show :The Amazing Race,” when contestants were welcomed by the daughter of the Philippine president.

Quiapo Church: Where the Black Nazarene is Kept

Quiapo Church (in Quiapo district of Manila) — the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene — is home for the famous Black Nazarene, a dark, 200-year-old, life-sized wooden statue of Christ kneeling with a cross on his shoulder. The statue is paraded through the streets of Manila city on Good Friday to commemorate his crucifixion and is said to bring miracles to anyone who touches it. The Black Nazarene procession on Good Friday attracts tens of thousands of mainly male barefoot devotees and is one of the largest gatherings in the Philippines. It has roots in Mexico, where a priest bought the statue before taking it to Manila in 1606. The statue has been at the Quiapo church since 1787.

The earliest church on the site — made of bamboo for the frame and nipa leaves as thatching — was built by missionaries in the mid 16th century. It and other churches that were building to replace it were burned down or destroyed in earthquakes. The present church was built between 1879 and 1889 In October 1928, the church caught fire again and church's wooden ceiling and sacristy were destroyed. In 1933, reconstruction of the church began and a dome and a second belfry was added to balance out the façade.

Built in the Baroque style, Quiapo Church's façade is distinctive with twisted columns on both levels. The Corinthian columns of the second level has a third of its shaft twisted near the base, while the upper portion has a smooth surface. The topmost portion of the four-storey belfries are rimmed with balustrades and decorated with huge scrolls. The tympanum of the pediment has a pair of chalice-shaped finials, and towards the end of the raking cornice, urn-like vases mark the end of the pediment. A quatrefoil window in the centre of the pediment was sealed up in the late 1980s and replaced with a relief of the crossed keys and tiara of the pope — a symbol of its status as a minor basilica.

Quiapo Church holds a novena every Friday, Quiapo Day, in honour of the Black Nazarene, and is attended by thousands of devotees. A note is sounded before the novena begins as the devotees to the Black Nazarene troop in and emit their strings of petitions. One can encounter the traditional folk Catholicism of Filipinos when they all climb the narrow flight of stairs to kiss the Señor's foot or wipe it with their handkerchiefs they use every time they visit. Daily hourly masses (all of which are celebrated in Tagalog language) are celebrated and devotees come from all walks of life, the noon services are today also broadcast on TV Maria and on Facebook Live.

Around Quiapo Church: Where Religion and the Marketplace Meet in the Philippines

The vicinity of the church is a popular area for peddlers. Some of them sell unsafe abortifacients, local gastric irritants and untested herbal folk (potions) remedies. Abortion is illegal in the Philippines, and individuals who cannot afford the surgical procedure resort to these vendors. The media often covers stories of dead foetuses being abandoned outside of the church's Blessed Sacrament chapel, a practise condemned by the Archdiocese of Manila. The fetuses covered by the Filipino TV media are often left anonymously wrapped in sack-cloth or plain boxes.

In 2010, Jofelle Tesorio wrote in Asia News Network, “Weekends, especially Sundays, are the busiest days in Quiapo, the nerve centre of faith in Manila. Filipinos come here for many reasons. Students praying to pass an exam, couples wanting to have a child, a young woman trying to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy, a mother praying for a sick child, a man hoping to go abroad, a forlorn lover wishing to let the pain away-they're just among the many who are lured by Quiapo, where miracles do happen for those who have faith. [Source: Jofelle Tesorio, Asia News Network, July 20, 2010 ~]

“Filipino religiosity is about faith and devotion to a supreme being represented by a mix of the orthodox and the surreal. Quiapo, which used to be the centre of commerce during the Spanish colonisation in the Philippines, is a juxtaposition of sorts. Here you see devotees overflowing from inside the old Quiapo Church. They kneel, hold hands and sing religious prayers. Men and women, young and old take turns in wiping the black Jesus Christ's statue (called the Black Nazarene) to ask for blessings. Around the church, the commerce of the masses prospers. Occult stalls line up the streets leading to the entrance of the church. Laminated pictures and images of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary and other saints are displayed; rosaries, prayer books, crucifix and amulets for different purposes are, laid on stalls. ~

“Old women sell 'herbal medicines' guaranteed to induce abortion or to cure all kinds of sickness. Others sell coloured candles-each represents a specific prayer. Red is for love, yellow is for good spirit, pink is for purity, green is for money, blue, purple and indigo are for health, self-expression, peace and tranquility. Middle-aged fortune tellers read tarot cards for people who want to know their destiny. The fortune tellers also accept prayer requests when asked by devotees. Many customers are women who often ask about their future husbands and the prospect of marriage. Love potions made from different herbs and animal concoctions are also popular among women. Beggars, young and old, some of them crippled, catch attention with their sad look, arms stretched waiting for alms. ~

“Writer Godofredo Stuart described Quiapo as the commerce of religion and the commerce of the alternatives. Often, people who visit Quiapo are reminded of the Bible scene where Jesus Christ got furious upon seeing gambling stalls outside the House of God. But people don't only visit this old Manila town for their devotion. They come to hunt for bargain stuff. From pirated DVDs to DLSR cameras to car mugs to blasting stereos-everything is here. Hidalgo Street, is popular for cameras. Most professional photographers in the Philippines had, in one way or another, purchased a camera or a camera accessory here. They're not only cheap but cameras come with pieces of advice from sellers who know exactly what their clients need-whether they're professional or amateurs. There's always a camera for every person on this street. ~

Museums in Manila and Imelda’s Shoes

The Philippine National Museum, which was almost totally destroyed during World War II, features permanent exhibitions, mostly on historical and scientific topics, and occasional exhibits of Philippine art and artifacts. The museum contains 4,722 artifacts, including goods from all over Southeast Asia, found at the Pandnanan Wreck of Chinese trading vessel that went down off Palawan in 1414. The Museum also holds the most extensive exhibit of Galleon Trade relics in the Philippines and illustrates the origins of the Filipino people. The National Museum itself is a fine example of Neo-Classical architecture. Other Museums in Manila include the Philippine Metropolitan Museum, with a fine collection of gold artifacts; the Carfel Museum, the Central Bank Money Museum.

Marikina Shoe Museum (in Marikina on the eastern outskirts of Manila) opened in February 2001 features 220 pairs of Imelda Marcos’s shoes. Malacanang Palace for a while displayed 1,200 pairs of her shoes and Imelda herself opened a shoe museum During a flood in 2009, the shoes at the Marikina Shoe Museum had to be rescued.

AFP reported: “The 200-pair display was moved upstairs just before flood waters swamped the ground floor of the Marikina Shoe Museum. Marikina, the Philippines' shoe production capital, was among the hardest hit areas when Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped record rains in and around Manila on September 26, killing nearly 300 people. The Marikina museum showcases the Marcos collection and an assortment of other footwear worn by former Philippine presidents, senators, ambassadors, and Marikina mayors. [Source: Agence France-Presse, October 8, 2009] Alaya Museum ( De La Rosa Street in Makati) has colorful dioramas depicting scenes from Philippine history and archaeological and ethnographic objects from some of its ancient cultures. Housed in a building by the famed architect Leandro V. Locsin, it features 60 handcrafted dioramas that chronicle major events of Philippine history. It also has a unique boat gallery with miniature models of a variety the water crafts used in Philippine waters. The fine arts collection features works by three painters considered pioneers in Philippine art: Juan Luna (1857-1899), Fernando Amorsolo (1882-1972), and Fernando Zobel (1924-1984). There are also some 19th century genre paintings from the 19th century that show liberal European ideas expressed in Philippine secular art.The Alaya Museum was closed in human rights 2019 for renovations.


Makati (On the north side of Manila) is Manila's main business district. Many of the city's large commercial hotels, upscale shopping malls and fancy restaurants are located here. Makati is also the home of Manila’s stock exchange, investment banks, large department stores, designer shops, cinemas and exclusive sport clubs. Major Philippine companies such as Ayala, Jollibee Foods Corporation, SM Group, and Metrobank are based in the business districts of Makati, Ortigas Center, and Bonifacio Global City.

Most upscale discos, bars and nightclubs are found in the Makati area. In Makati, there is the Greenbelt, Glorietta, The Fort, Jupiter St. and J. P. Rizal Street. The best shops and shopping malls are located near the large hotels in Makati. In Makati there is the huge Ayala Center , which includes Glorietta, Greenbelt and the boutique shops of 6750 Ayala Avenue. Nearby in , Mandaluyong is SM Megamall, the second largest shopping mall in the Philippines and the ninth largest in the world. It is located in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong. Nearby is Robinson’s Galleria.

Alaya Museum ( De La Rosa Street in Makati) has colorful dioramas depicting scenes from Philippine history and archaeological and ethnographic objects from some of its ancient cultures. Housed in a building by the famed architect Leandro V. Locsin, it features 60 handcrafted dioramas that chronicle major events of Philippine history. It also has a unique boat gallery with miniature models of a variety the water crafts used in Philippine waters. The fine arts collection features works by three painters considered pioneers in Philippine art: Juan Luna (1857-1899), Fernando Amorsolo (1882-1972), and Fernando Zobel (1924-1984). There are also some 19th century genre paintings from the 19th century that show liberal European ideas expressed in Philippine secular art.The Alaya Museum was closed in human rights 2019 for renovations.

The Metro Railway Transit (MRT or MRT 3) traverses the length of EDSA and connects North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, passing through the major arteries of Makati's financial district. Also known as the Blue Line or Metrostar Express, the MRT 3 runs along EDSA and passes through the Manila Metro area districts of Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasay, Quezon City, and San Juan. The MRT 3 operates from 5:30am to 10:30pm. It is often crowded nearly 300 people.


Marikina (eastern outskirts of Manila) is a suburb of Manila with about a half million residents. It is the home of the Philippines’s shoe industry which has fallen on hard times in recent years. There are still some old stone houses here that predate World War II. Marikina is predominately a residential community. Many residents work in other places so the traffic here can be quite bad. The Marikina museum showcases the Marcos collection and an assortment of other footwear worn by former Philippine presidents, senators, ambassadors, and Marikina mayors.

According to ASIRT: Roads follow a grid pattern, except in Marikina Heights where roads are arranged in a circular or radial pattern. Secondary roads are often narrow with limited parking. Vendor stands and businesses commonly encroach on sidewalks, restricting pedestrian traffic. Two rivers run through the city: Marikina River runs north to south through city center. Nangka River runs through northern Marikina. Marikina Bridge and Marcos Highway Bridge link the river’s banks. Tumana Bridge links northern Marikina to Quezon City. Sierra Madre Mountains run east of the city. City is favorable for cycling. Bikeways link residential areas with commercial and industrial areas, schools, and several public transport stations, including LRT stations. Bikeways are clearly marked and have signage and lighting. Bicycles account for a larger percent of local trips than in Metro Manila. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), PDF, 2012]

Marikina Shoe Museum opened in February 2001 features 220 pairs of Imelda Marcos’s shoes. Malacanang Palace for a while displayed 1,200 pairs of her shoes and Imelda herself opened a shoe museum During a flood in 2009, the shoes at the Marikina Shoe Museum had to be rescued.

Flooding and erosion of river banks are common during heavy rains. On the impact of 2009 flooding on the shoe museum, AFP reported: “The 200-pair display was moved upstairs just before flood waters swamped the ground floor of the Marikina Shoe Museum. Marikina was among the hardest hit areas when Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped record rains in and around Manila on September 26, killing” [Source: Agence France-Presse, October 8, 2009]

Metro Light Rail Line 2 (LRT Line 2) runs east-west through metropolitan area, linking Santolan Station in Marikina City to Recto Station in Manila. Also known as the Purple Line, the LRT 2 traverses five cities in Metro Manila: Pasig, Marikina, Quezon City, San Juan and Manila) along the major thoroughfares of Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda and Recto Avenue. Stations are handicap accessible. Escalators are available.

ASIRT reports: 1) Marikina “is served by several major, national roads:Marikina- Infanta Road (also known as Marcos Highway) and Sumulong Highway (Corazon Aquino Avenue). Road network is inadequate to handle increasing traffic levels. Traffic is heavily congested during rush hour. 2) Buses, jeepneys and tricycles provide public transportation. Manila LRT-2 serves the city. Board at Santolan Station. 3) Tricycles provide most short distance local transport. 4) Be alert for vehicles illegally parked on bike paths. Bicycle theft is increasing. Properly secure bike when parked.

Quezon City

Quezon City(20 kilometers from downtown Manila, but still part of Manila’s sprawling suburbs) was the capital of the Philippines from 1948 to 1976, and still officially listed as the capital even though few government agencies have their offices here. The area was formerly a private estate named for Filipino statesman Manuel Luis Quezon. Now it is home to almost three million residents.

Quezon City is technically the most populated city in the Philippines as it has more people than Manila proper. The terrain consists of rolling hills, ridges and lowlands. In some places there are steep hills with a gradient ranging from 8 percent to 15 percent. Several rivers and streams pass through the city and flooding is an issue. Flash flooding risks are high in Tandang Sora, Mindanao Avenue, Tomas Morato, Kamuning Street, EDSA, P. Tuason Street, Aurora Boulevard and Santo Domingo streets, Roxas district and Commonwealth-Santo Niño area. Risk of tidal flooding is limited to land along San Juan River in Santol area. Erosion of river and stream banks may damage roads and bridges. Road closures are possible.

Quezon City is a businesses center but also has recreational and entertainment opportunities. Although it is part of the sprawling Manila metro area, it also has its own identity. Quezon City is the site of the main campus of the University of the Philippines, founded in 1908. Several theaters and concert halls are located here. Among them Areneta Coliseum, Abelardo Hall and Guerrero Theatre (connected with the university). The British Council Center, the Goethe Institute and a number of galleries greatly enrich greater Manila's cultural life.

Quezon City is a popular entertainment destination of locals as the club prices are a little lower than those in Makati. Most clubs are close to each other so common to bar hop. Try the establishments along Timog & Tomas Morato Avenues and Quezon Boulevard, and in Eastwood City in Libis. In Quezon City you can see a church located on the same street as the bars. The comedy Klownz, features gay moderators getting Filipino volunteers to come up on stage and, sing. The SM City North EDSA is a large shopping mall located in Quezon City. It is the largest shopping mall in the Philippines and the eighth largest shopping mall in the world.

Metro Light Rail Line 2 (LRT Line 2) runs east-west through metropolitan area, linking Santolan Station in Marikina City to Recto Station in Manila. Also known as the Purple Line, the LRT 2 traverses five cities in Metro Manila: Pasig, Marikina, Quezon City, San Juan and Manila) along the major thoroughfares of Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda and Recto Avenue. Stations are handicap accessible. Escalators are available.

The Metro Railway Transit (MRT or MRT 3) traverses the length of EDSA and connects North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, passing through the major arteries of Makati's financial district. Also known as the Blue Line or Metrostar Express, the MRT 3 runs

According to ASIRT: 1) Quezon City is served by several main roads: C-3 (Araneta Avenue), C-4 (EDSA), C-5 (Katipunan - Luzon - Republic Avenue), R-6 (Aurora Blvd.), R-7 (Quezon Avenue - Commonwealth Avenue) and R-8 (Bonifacio Avenue - Quirino Highway). The roads link the city other areas in Metro Manila. 2) Traffic is often congested. Traffic jams are common at intersections of main roads: Quezon Avenue and Araneta Avenue, Quezon Avenue and EDSA, Aurora Blvd. and EDSA, Commonwealth Avenue and Don Antonio and Quirino Highway and Susano Road. 3) Major bus stations include Araneta Center Bus Terminal in Cubao and several stations along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA). 4) Jeepneys, taxis and tricycles also provide transport. 5) Prior to major holidays, Quezon City police inspect major bus terminals and LRT and MRT stations to assure safety of passengers. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), PDF, 2012]

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Philippines Tourism websites, Philippines government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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