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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