Manila, ‘Pearl of Orient’
Manila in Philippines, the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, couldn’t be more apt – its unappealing shell reveals its jewel only to those resolute enough to pry. No stranger to hardship, the city has endured every disaster humans and nature could throw at it, and yet today the chaotic metropolis thrives as a true Asian megacity. Skyscrapers pierce the hazy sky, mushrooming from the grinding poverty of expansive shanty towns, while gleaming malls foreshadow Manila’s brave new air-conditioned world. The congested roads snarl with traffic, but, like the overworked arteries of a sweating giant, they are what keeps this modern metropolis alive.
Fort Santiago – 30pic36
Guarding the entrance to the Pasig River is Intramuros’ premier tourist attraction: Fort Santiago. Within the fort grounds is an oasis of lovely manicured gardens, plazas and fountains leading to an arched gate and a pretty lily pond. Within is the beautifully presented Rizal Shrine museum, the building where Dr José Rizal – the Philippines’ national hero – was incarcerated as he awaited execution in 1896. It contains various fascinating displays of Rizal memorabilia and a re-creation of his cell and the courtroom trial.
At the far end of the fort are outlooks over an industrial section of the Pasig River leading to
Baluarte de Santa Barbara, a restored 18th-century Spanish military barracks where hundreds of Filipino and American POWs were killed in WWII; it’s now the Rizaliana Furniture Hall, displaying Rizal’s family furniture. Also of interest are various dungeon cell blocks, including one that Rizal spent his last night in. Brass footprints set into the pavement mark his final steps to the execution spot in Rizal Park.
The building where José Rizal was incarcerated has been turned into a shrine-museum dedicated to his life. There’s a recreation of his cell block, the first draft of his novel Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and a copy of ‘Mi Ultimo Adios’ (My Last Farewell), the original of which was smuggled out of his cell inside an oil lamp. There’s also a reliquary containing one of his vertebrae and a comprehensive timeline of his last years.
Art In Island – 30pic34
This is an art museum where you become the subject. It contains scores of three-dimensional murals and paintings designed to play tricks on your camera lens. Set it up right and you’ll have a shot of yourself huddled inside a snow globe, standing on your head, or gracing the cover of Time magazine. The ultimate museum for the Instagram generation.
Many of the paintings are based on classics, so it’s a good art history lesson for the kids.
Splendid sunset views of Manila Bay can be had from the pedestrian Baywalk that runs along Roxas Blvd. There’s plenty of local colour here as well, although the vendors and food kiosks come and go depending on the whims of the mayor.
Manila Ocean Park – 30pic35
The Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium in Manila, Philippines. It is owned by China Oceanis Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of China Oceanis Inc., a Singaporean-registered firm. It is located behind the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park.
The main attraction of Manila Ocean Park is the Oceanarium which houses 14,000 sea creatures from about 277 species all of which is indigenous in Southeast Asia. The Oceanarium has seven sections and contains 3,000 cubic meters of sea water. Its main feature is the 25 meters (82 ft) 220° curved walkway tunnel after a 55-meter walkthrough inside the Oceanarium. The water used in the Oceanarium is derived from the Manila Bay which is filtered to be suitable to marine life. It also has an educational activity area, function rooms for events, and shark and stingray viewing area situated in two levels. The Jellies Exhibit, a separate attraction hosts jellyfishes. The Back of the House features information on the operation of the facility itself.