Saturday, October 27, 2012

Manic over Manila

I ♥ Manila! I mean the city herself, not Metro, not Mega. I’m manic over Manila’s old-world charm, her historical and cultural landmarks, her swanky megamalls, her fabulous sunsets, her exciting nightlife, and much, much more. And I got so many interesting tales to share while exploring some of her legendary districts like Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Port Area, Quiapo, Sampaloc, Sta. Cruz, Sta. Mesa, to name some.  

I’m one of the millions who witnessed how she has metamorphosed into the throbbing metropolis of roughly 1.6 million inhabitants that she is today, luring thousands of dreamy-eyed promdis in search for sought-after windfalls, with not a few experiencing shocking waterloos. Over the years, Manila has emerged as the hub of what is now called the National Capital Region, a conglomeration of 16 cities and municipalities, populated by nearly 12 million Pinoys.

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The megacity had me the moment I saw her for the first time more than two decades ago, an admiration that has grown stronger since then. On separate occasions, I had the chance to explore the vastness of Rizal Park, say a little prayer at the Manila Cathedral, attend a convention at the Manila Hotel, watch a retrospective film at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), join a rally at Quirino Grandstand and catch a glimpse of her world-famous sunset while strolling along the baywalk near Roxas Boulevard.  

Manila Metropolitan Cathedral
Much as I love her, I also hate Manila! I can’t stand her bumper-to-bumper traffic, her treacherous train systems, her polluted air, her poverty-stricken slums, her dizzying skyscrapers, her intricate web of flyovers, overpasses and underpasses, her murky canals and waterways, her notorious underworld characters who hug the headlines every now and then.
Here’s one helluva megacity which, in some respects, has progressed but has also putrefied in many ways. Even so, I still return to see her when there’s a chance to do so. And when I do, there’s always something new about the country’s capital that never fails to dazzle me: plush hotels, towering condominiums, world-class shopping malls, nice theme parks

Malate Church
Palacio del Gobernador
Each time I catch a glimpse of Manila’s eternally changing face, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the plethora of prosperity surrounding her. But I’m dismayed whenever I look at the dens of destitution scattered all over. There seems to be too many less fortunate souls in this city of golden opportunities than those who were fortunate enough to find fame and fortune. Ah, if only Manila can help fulfill all their wishes.

Having shared these snippets about the nation's capital, I’d like to end here by humming these lines from a 70s pop ditty about the city: 

Manila, Manila
I keep coming back to Manila
Simply no place like Manila
Manila, I’m coming home…:D

More pics:

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Winding up in Davao’s Newest Wonderland

Something up in the northern hills of Davao City has been making a lot of buzz lately among weekend wanderers and it’s named D’Leonor Inland Resort and Adventure Park. I got curious about this highland resort that’s still largely a work-in-progress and had made not a few attempts to check it out. But my best-laid plans were foiled by this or that unfortunate circumstance. Geez, I gotta be there before the year ends, I promised myself.

Fortunately, the chance to see one of the newest family adventure resorts to rise in this part of the country came my way. With barely a few days left to prepare for one of our biggest corporate events, I suggested to my co-workers that we hold our final rehearsal and critiquing outside the four walls of the office. And guess where we wound up? Where else but D’Leonor Inland Resort and Adventure Park!

A fast-rising wonderland in the highlands of the city, the resort offers visitors a breathtaking vista of a sprawling 30-hectare property that has evolved from a wilderness of forest and rivers and is now continuously being developed by its owners into a family adventure and theme park. Located roughly 10 kilometers away from the downtown area, it’s one of the numerous real estate developments that’s rapidly changing the landscape of Mindanao’s premier metropolis.  

Nothing prepared me for what I saw at the d’Leonor wonderlanda cozy hotel, a function house with restaurant, a wave pool and a raging river (man-made), a zoo and fishing ground, a golf course, a mini all-terrain vehicle (ATV) track, a zipline and hanging bridge, a cable car and many other amusement and recreational facilities that are still half-finished. There are also chalets, picnic huts and even dormitories for those who want stay there for a longer time.

It would seem that the resort has everything tourists would usually hope to find in a getaway. Well, almost. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have any natural body of water, say, a falls, a river, a hot spring, a lake or something, to boast of. I usually look forward to these things in a hideaway before I’d give it my thumbs-up. Correct me if I’m wrong but there’s hardly anything there that’s not man-made.

Nonetheless, I’d still give the D’Leonor wonderland my seal of approval because we really enjoyed our brief stay there. All told, the facilities were generally excellent and the staff accommodating, For a few hours, the short but sweet spree at the resort enabled us to hit three birds with one stone: rehearse our presentations, ride the ATV and relax our tired minds—all in a day’s time. Now that’s one rare opportunity to mix business with pleasure! :D