Metro Manila – friendly, hospitable, warmly welcoming - is the principal gateway of the Philippines to its major destinations throughout its archipelago of 7,107 islands.
Metro Manila is an exciting, colorful and complex metropolis made up of 14 cities and 3 municipalities, namely, Manila, the capital of the Philippines at Kilometer Zero; Quezon City, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Pasig, Marikina in the East; Makati, Pasay, Paranaque, Las Pinas
, Muntinlupa, Taguig, and Pateros in the South; and Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela in the North. All these cities-each with its own distinct character, history, and interesting features– occupy a total area of 633.3 square kilometers, bounded by the Manila Bay and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna.
Metro Manila is the central nerve of all activities in the country, the seat of government, the center of trade and economic activities and the core of education, culture and arts and entertainment.
Metro Manila is a combination of different elements that define its character as a place:
Drama, as the metropolis, particularly the capital city of Manila, succeeds in making its historic past relevant to the present times.
Sights and sounds, as it is a blending of both ancient and modern edifices like skyscrapers and state-of-the art shopping malls, of concrete and greenery, of stark settings and pockets of beautiful scenery, all surrounded by the cacophony of sounds of people of varied tongues, culture and beliefs, and of everything else moving around the cities.
Money and music, as it is an excellent place for business or work, to earn a living and then, at the end of the day, to relax and enjoy varied forms of entertainment, subdued or glitzy and fast, even raucous.
Lights and life, as the entire metropolis is brightly lit, cosmopolitan and fashionable, vibrant and alive, either in basic comfort or unimaginable luxury, beginning from dawn and ending at dawn.
Most of all, Metro Manila is the Philippines' heart and soul.
Getting Around the Metropolis
Those who are new to the National Capital Region (NCR) may find Metro Manila's transport system quite confusing. Taking the public transport notwithstanding is a very exciting experience because aside from getting to your destinations, it is a means of discovering the culture that is genuinely Filipino and truly Metro Manila.
There are various options one can take to get around NCR. People believe that traffic in the metropolis is so notorious but it is not as bad as everyone thinks it is. It is just a matter of good timing so it is advised that one must avoid the rush hours and instead go out during the odd hours from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Visitors who prefer the convenience of private cars can avail of the services of rent-a-car establishments. Several companies provide these services but it is advised to hire those accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Several means of public transportation are available: taxis, buses, jeepneys, tricycles/ pedicabs, and trains.
Taxis are the best means of transport around the metropolis. Airconditioned cabs roam the streets anytime of the day. Flag down rate is thirty pesos (P30.00) with an additional two pesos and fifty centavos (P2.50) for every 300 meters thereafter. Be cautious, however, of taxi drivers who ask for fixed rates. This practice is illegal and very much discouraged although it happens, particularly to destinations which are offbeat or too close. Passengers are reminded to pay only the amount stated in the meter.
DOT accredited taxis with metered rates and trained drivers are available as well from the international airport to any point of destination within Metro Manila
In addition to the regular taxis are the popular mega-taxis commonly called FX, referring to the Toyota Tamaraw FX although, at present, Isuzu Highlanders, Toyota Revos and Mitsubishi Adventures ply as mega-taxis as well. Unlike ordinary cabs, the FX have specific destinations and take only passengers along their routes. Drivers charge ten to thirty-five pesos (PIO-P35) per passenger depending on the destination. Maximum capacity of the FX is ten passengers. Commuters are inclined to take this transport mainly for convenience because the fare is more affordable compared to a regular taxi, it is more comfortable than a jeepney because it is airconditioned and is significantly more agile than a bus.
Buses, which are quite dependable, tread the major thoroughfares of Metro Manila. Various city bus companies provide the region with easy access to the different cities and municipalities. Regular and airconditioned buses service the public as early as 4:00 in the morning up to midnight, from north to south.
Provincial bus lines with terminals within NCR likewise link Metro Manila to the rest of the country.
The jeepney, as the undisputed king of the Philippine roads, is the basic means of transportation for most Filipinos. They jostle daily with the taxis and buses within the streets of Metro Manila.
Although the jeepney is not always convenient to take, fare is very inexpensive and riding one is always a fun and exciting experience. Jeepney drivers are oftentimes an amusement to their passengers as they skillfully maneuver these unique vehicles even on the busiest streets. Majority of the jeepneys coming from the different cities and municipalities of the Metropolis converge in Quiapo. Check signboards for your destinations before boarding a jeepney.
The best way to go on short distances is by motorized tricycles or pedal-powered pedicabs. Minimum fare is four pesos (P4.00) per passenger depending on the location and distance traveled.
The overhead train of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) offers a much faster alternative of commuting. It stretches from the City of Caloocan to Baclaran
, Pasay City. Train intervals is a mere ten minutes and boarding and unboarding stations are located at key areas of the metropolis. Train fare is ten pesos (P10).
Servicing the public as well is the Metrotren, the land railway transit operated by the Philippine National Railways (PNR). Minimum train fare is two pesos (P2.00) which goes all the way from Tayuman to Alabang with specific loading and unloading stations. Trains leave every 30 minutes starting from 5:00am to 5:OOpm.
To address the escalating traffic situation in the region, the government and the private sector have joined hands in providing a more convenient system of transportation and making all its cities and municipalities more accessible via the Metro Rail Transit (MRT).
• LRT 1 covers Paranaque, Pasay, Manila and Caloocan
• LRT 2 covers Quezon City and Manila
• MRT covers Pasay City, Makati, Mandaluyong and Quezon City
The existing urban rail network (LRT 1, 2, 3) will likewise be extended to the adjacent provinces of Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Bulacan (LRT 4, North Rail).
BACLARAN REDEMPTORIST CHURCH
The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is visited by thousands of devotees each Wednesday at the Baclaran Church which is considered to be "the most attended church in Asia". Run by the Redemptorist Fathers
, it has become a Mecca for Christian pilgrims from all over the world. It is believed that novena devotion at the shrine results in the granting of the devotees petitions.
Roxas Boulevard, Manila
Foreign and local tourists wishing a whiff of sea breeze may promenade between the Manila Bay seawall and numerous al fresco restaurants. It is a strategic spot to view the world famous Manila Bay sunset and its vibrant colors that continue to be accentuated in the evening by the colorful streetlights stretched along the entire 2 kilometer promenade from the American Embassy compound to the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex.
Greenhills, Chinatown and Divisoria
When locals want a good buy, they go all the way to Divisoria or Chinatown in Manila. Others who avoid the crowd or prefer better shopping conditions settle for the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan. Name it, these places have it. From knick-knacks, to the latest gadgets, garments, and antiques --- there is always a bargain waiting to be discovered.
CBD ENTERTAINMENT AND SHOPPING
Central Business Districts (CBD)
Mixed-used. Mixed pleasures --- best describe the entertainment and shopping havens of Makati and Ortigas Center. A place to see and be seen, the high-end Ayala Center in Makati (Glorietta and Greenbelt) is frequented by the country's expatriate community, the local elite
, and employees of the premiere business district for its themed restaurants, fastfood chains, glitzy bars, designer boutiques and first-class entertainment. In the crossroads of Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City is Ortigas Center, home of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and San Miguel Corporation (SMC) headquarters. Several malls like SM Megamall, The Podium, Robinsons Galleria, Shangri-la Plaza, Starmall, St. Francis Square
, and Edsa Central cater to the employees of this CBD which has a market mix similar to Makati. There are others like The Fort in Taguig, Festival Mall and Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa, Eastwood City in Libis, Quezon City, and the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City that attract those in the periphery of these main CBDs.
COLLEGE EDUCATION / ESL CENTERS
Metro Manila continues to be a favored destination of Asian students not only for their college education which lasts several years but also as a place for them to learn English as a Second Language (ESL) in a month's time. They find it inexpensive and find great value in immersing themselves in the local culture. This trend is expected to continue and increase substantially as the global village gains acceptance and more Asians realize the importance of knowledge and English as a means to further oneself in a highly competitive global environment.
CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES (CCP) COMPLEX
Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City
The vision of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex as the mecca for culture and arts in Asia is underway and is expected to be completed by 2013. This 60 hectare development, built on reclaimed land by the bay, is the country's preeminent venue for cultural shows
, concerts, conventions and exhibits and has played host to several of the world's finest artists and performers. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the Folk Arts Theater (FAT), the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the Coconut Palace, and the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila are situated in this vast complex. A recent attraction that draws in both tourists and locals to its popular bars and restaurants is the Harbor Square.
GAWAD KALINGA COMMUNITIES
Gawad Kalinga, 349 Ortigas Avenue near EDSA
Tel. No. (63-02) 7267267
Strewn all over the metropolis and the entire country are social and spiritual oases of hope and concern for fellowmen known as the Gawad Kalinga Villages. Through the years, Gawad Kalinga has shown how the poorest of the poor, some of whom had never had the chance in their lives, can rise above hopelessness and helplessness. By giving land to the landless and home to the homeless, Gawad Kalinga aims to restore the dignity of the poor and his capacity to dream and the motivation to work for that dream. Gawad Kalinga is becoming a global template for development and has grown to represent the Philippines' next gift to humanity. Community organizers, social workers and politicians from other countries visit via self-initiated study tours and replicate GK villages in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Cambodia
; and soon in East Timor, India, Nigeria and Nicaragua. There are also foreigners who have left the comforts of home to immerse themselves deeply into this life-changing advocacy to make one's home a better place to live in. GK volunteers are the Peace Corps of our times and their number has grown to over 200,000 active volunteers. The 1,000 GK communities all over the country directly affect the lives of half a million poor Filipinos regardless of location or religious creed.
INTRAMUROS — THE WALLED CITY
Walk back in time to the old Spanish era when you visit the walled city of Intramuros and take in vestiges of more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule --- massive high stone walls, bulwarks, moats and cobblestoned streets. Originally the site of a large Malayan Muslim settlement called Maynilad headed by Rajah Sulayman, Intramuros, literally meaning "within the walls", was the glorious old city of Manila. It was built by the Spaniards in the 16"1 century as a defense against foreign invaders. The walls of the city fortress stretched 4.5 kms. and encircled 64 hectares where residences, churches, schools, government buildings, and drawbridges as gates were erected. Subsequent fires, earthquakes and World War II bombings left it in ruins sparing only some walls and buildings. Restoration and preservation programs help revive the illustrious past of Intramuros.
Located at the northwestern tip of Intramuros is Fort Santiago
, one of the fortifications started in I571 and completed nearly 150 years later by Filipino forced labor. What once served as the headquarters of the Spanish forces is now known as the "Shrine of Freedom", in memory of the heroic Filipinos imprisoned and killed here during the Spanish and Japanese era. A museum with memorabilia and antique furniture honors the country's national hero, Jose P. Rizal, who spent his last few days here before he was executed on December 30, 1896. A resident theater company, PETA, uses ramparts, an old garrison and a small chapel as theaters for both traditional and modern plays.
Nearby are the Manila Cathedral and the San Agustin Church and Museum. The Manila Cathedral is a minor basilica dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It has an imposing Romanesque structure made entirely out of Philippine adobe, main doors made of bronze with eight panels depicting the cathedral's history in bas-relief, and stained glass windows of various Philippine Madonnas. The square fronting the cathedral is Plaza Roma, formerly known as the Plaza de Armas, where bullfights were staged during the 18`1 century. Adjacent to the square is the Palacio del Gobernador which used to house the seat of government of the Spanish regime. Four blocks away is the San Agustin Church and Museum. The original structure of bamboo and nipa on this site was the first church in Intramuros. Adjoining the church is a monastery-museum which contains a vast collection of Philippine artifacts and religious art amassed by the Augustinians. Across the street is Casa Manila, a reconstructed 19" century mansion replete with 16" to 191, century furniture and furnishings.
Considered one of the most historic structures in the Philippines, this colonial mansion by the Pasig River is the official residence of the President of the Republic of the Philippines. It has been witness to numerous challenges that have faced the nation and events that have defined the country's history. Malacanang Palace has been home to 14 Spanish governor-generals, 13 American civil governors
, and 14 Philippine Presidents.
Why wait for the most sought after medical care professionals to reach your land when you can visit them and have them all to yourself? The rising number of satisfied patients who visit the country for medical reasons indicate that they find assurance and comfort in the capability and pampering that only Filipino doctors, nurses and therapists can offer at half the price back home.
MUELLE DEL RIO
This promenade straddles the southern bank of the Pasig River marking the area where the historic "Galleon Trade" started and flourished. Several notable restaurateurs have big umbrellas and tents serving popular delicacies. The northern embankment is a well-lighted promenade with sidewalk cafes and flea market stalls.
PEOPLE POWER MONUMENT
Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA)
A gift of the Filipino to the world --- the miracle that was "EDSA" inspired other freedom-loving people in Germany and the Soviet Union to replicate the feat of conquering hate and oppression with kindness and love ---tearing down the infamous Berlin wall and uniting Germany while dividing the Soviet Union into several free states. People Power continues to bring democracy to oppressed states the world over. The EDSA Shrine and People Power Monument, along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) cor. Ortigas Avenue and cor. White Plains Avenue respectively, are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and those who bravely risked their lives during the 1986 People Power Revolution which ousted a dictatorship. The church and image were erected at the very site where ordinary people stopped mighty military tanks with simple rosary beads, prayers and flowers.
The plaza is the showcase of the city-wide urban renewal and pedestrianization. It transforms an erstwhile chaotic place into well-appointed open areas for political, social, and cultural events. Artistic arches and landmarks provide an appropriate perimeter for the public as they segregate areas for organized street vending and better access to a wide variety of bargains: cameras, videos, photo supplies, religious items, electronic equipment, musical instruments
, etc. The historic plaza leads to the Quiapo Church, known as the Basilica of the Black Nazarene, where devotees fill up every available space for their Friday novenas.
QUIAPO CHURCH (MINOR BASILICA OF THE BLACK NAZARENE)
One of Manila's most famous churches, the St. John the Baptist Parish Church or Quiapo Church is home to the 400 year old image of the Black Nazarene. The miraculous image was brought to the Philippines by the Recollect missionaries from Acapulco, Mexico in 1606. From Bagumbayan (Luneta), it was transferred to Intramuros, then finally to Quiapo. This transfer is commemorated every January 9 when millions of barefoot devotees join the procession as a form of penance for sins committed and of thanksgiving for blessings received. The image leaves the church at 2 p.m. and slowly inches its way through a traditional route while being besieged by millions of devotees who take turns clambering up the andas (carriage) to touch the image, and, pulling the rope (pingga) as a fulfillment of their annual panata (solemn promise). A second procession is also held every Good Friday to commemorate Christ's Passion. Around the church is a fascinating gathering of vendors selling candles and curiosities like amulets and folk cures for obscure ailments. The present cream-colored edifice was built after the original Mexican Baroque structure burned to the ground in 1928.
Barhop and experience romantic dinners, artsy exhibits, hip street parties, and a round of beer all in one night. Bohemian in character, the Remedios Circle and the Malate entertainment district is a favorite of artists and creative professionals. Other popular entertainment spots have come and gone but Malate has always withstood the shifting preferences of several generations who ultimately find themselves back in their old hangouts in this western part of the metropolis.
RIZAL PARK / RIZAL MONUMENT
Roxas Boulevard, Manila
The Rizal National Park is a "people's park" and is a favorite of people from all walks of life. They come here to stroll, laze around, exercise, skate, and to spend quality time with loved ones. It has an area of 58 hectares which stretches from Taft Avenue up to the walls of the famous Manila Bay. Known as Bagumbayan (meaning "new town") during the Spanish era, it is where the Filipino-Muslims took refuge after the Spaniards occupied Intramuros in 1571. Later, it was called Luneta ("little moon"). In 1902, Daniel Burnham, architect and city planner, envisioned it as the site of the American government center. The 3 buildings constructed now house The Executive House, the Department of Tourism and the Department of Finance. The park's most prominent landmark is the Rizal Monument named after the country's national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Visiting heads of states and dignitaries lay a wreath of flowers here as part of their itinerary. The Quirino Grandstand is across the famed Roxas Boulevard and is the site of the country's Independence Day parades and occasional concerts.
THE UNIQUE ICONS OF LAS PINAS
Las Pinas City
Las Pinas has always been known for its world famous Bamboo Organ and annual festival where international artists have performed. This unique instrument made in 1822 can only be found inside the St. Joseph Church where it can be viewed from 2-4 p.m. on weekdays and its melodious sound heard every Sunday. But this rare musical instrument is not the only unique attraction of the city. It also boasts of the Nature Church which is one-of-a-kind in its use of tree stumps for seats, native anahaw leaves for roofing and narra hardwood for the altar. This Catholic church made out of indigenous materials is built on a 4,000 square meter mango orchard and tastefully designed by renowned architect, Bobby Manosa.
WORLD'S BIGGEST SHOE
Riverbanks, Marikina City
Marikina is known as the shoe capital of the country and is home to the World's Biggest Shoe as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Want to order handmade shoes crafted at the homes of the shoemakers? Or, customized shoes made while you wait at one of the modern factories? While you're at it, why not visit the Shoe Museum where the former First Lady Imelda Marcos' famous collection is on display? Experience all these in the eastern part of the metropolis touted as the country's "Little Singapore". Voted several times as a Most Competitive City, Marikina is also acclaimed for its best practices in governance and for transforming a biologically dead river into a revitalized and award winning Riverpark that stretches along both sides of the 11-kilometer long Marikina River and features jogging lanes, shopping centers, rows of dining and entertainment establishments, a Chinese pagoda, sports facilities, picnic grounds
, and a flea market.
From the luxurious to the basic, visitors can choose from a wide selection of the best hotel chains, business hotels, serviced apartments, pension houses, apartels and inns that cater to their desired level of comfort and convenience.
CENTURY PARK HOTEL
599 Pablo Ocampo Street, 1004 Malate, Manila
Tel. No. (63-02) 528-8888
Fax No. (63-02) 525-15811 to 12
Total No. of Rooms: 500
Room Features: Airconditioning, cable/satellite TV, hairdryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, private bathroom, radio, coffee and tea making facilities, telephone
CROWNS PLAZA GALLERIA MANILA
L-2 Robinsons Galleria Manila, Ortigas Center cor. ADB Avenue Quezon City, Metro Manila
Tel. No. (63-02) 633-7222
Fax No. (63-02) )635-2374
Total No. of Rooms: 263
Room Features: Cable/satellite TV, in-room movies, work desk with lamp, telephone with voice mail, in-room safe, individually controlled airconditioning