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Manila –for Travelers
At one o’clock on a weekday night Manila’s Roxas Boulevard (of Baywallk, as I is better known) is buzzing with a variety of entertainment. A group of young stand-up comedians in lurid polyester overalls, sporting gelled Mohawk manes, tumble across a temporary stage shrieking Tagalog lines that send the crowds into hysterical fits of laughter. A little further down a band called Harmony belts out mushy hip-hop to people sitting at a café. Vendors selling corn on the cob, cigarettes, guitars and ballot-a duck’s egg boiled once the chick inside has reached a certain stage of development (often having grown feathers too), a very popular and very grisly local delicacy- weave in and out of the crowds. On another makeshift stage, a group of young rappers keeps the audience dancing. A warm breeze sweeps in from Manila Bay, shaking the coconut trees, sending the decorative neon globes that line the boulevard into spasms, and distorting the faint light of ships anchored in the bay. A steady stream of traffic flows by.
The first thing that strikes you about Manila is not the beautiful bay, the smoggy traffic, the fantastic sunsets of the many different types of food-it’s the music. It’s everywhere. At the airport a 11-piece Pinikpikan band plays a harmonious (sometimes frantic) fusion of local folk music and modern jam-band rock, using bamboo reed pipes, flutes, xylophones and percussion instruments, singing in English and local dialects.
If there’s one thing Manila is not, it’s a walker’s city. Metro Manila is 17 different cities (Or administrative areas) rolled into one large National Capital Region (NCR), of which Manila city is one. Apart from a few areas in Intramurous (the old Spanish city) and parts of Malate and Ermita (the area around Baywalk,) the others are either too chaotic or too crowded to enjoy walking through.
GETTING AROUND IN MANILA Moving around in Manila is fairly cheap- taxis are the most comfortable and usually will not cost more than P250. Jeepneys are a much more fun way to see the city and talk to Manilineans but they can get hot and dusty
OUTSIDE MANILA Buses are the easiest ways to travel around Luzon,
But the bus system is fairly disorganized and there is no central station-it’s best to ask at your hotel. If you’re planning to travel to other islands you’ll have to take a boat. There are three major shipping lines, which handle inter-island traffic Negros Navigation Sullpicio Lines and Super ferry.
SOUVENIR the Philippines has a lot by way of handicraft- from detailed wood carving to garments made from pineapple and banana fibre (barong Tagalog). But one of the nicest souvenirs is one of these gaily-coloured hand- painted vases. They are elaborately patterned and come in many different sizes. You’ll find them at a shop called Kultura at the Mall of Asia in Manila.
WHERE & WHAT TO EAT There’s a huge variety of food in the Philippines-every island has its own specialty. In Manila you can sample nearly all the different regional cuisines- from Tocino (honey-cured pork) to inihaw (grilled seafood, often including milkfish, marinated in kalamansi juice). If you’re adventurous you can try novelties like Balut or Tenga (pig’s ears).
WHAT TO DO
>An evening on Baywalk is a must do. Listen to some of the local bands; drink coffee at one of the many cafes, of hang out at one of the open-air bars with wonderful views of Manila Bay.
>its well worth doing a walking tour through Intramurous. Star at the Intramurous Visitors Center at the entrance to Fort Santiago, the seat of Spanish power. Don’t miss the San Agustin Church-the oldest church in the Philippines. The ornate interior is filled with significant historical objects. Stop by at EC. Manazan Handicrafts on Santa Clara Street to pick up some local handicrafts.
>The Greenbelt shopping mall in Makati can be fun to hang out at, after which you can visit the Ayala Museum, around the corner. It’s an excellent museum with dioramas on Filipino culture, art and history.
>Walk through Rizal Park, a 60-hectare spread of lawns, ornamental gardens and wooded areas. Every day hundreds of people come here to jog, picnic, sing, and practice local martial arts like arnis de mano (stick-fighting). There’s an open-air auditorium, which has concerts on Sunday.
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Originally posted 2004-11-06 19:41:41.