Manila in Philippines
Modern Manila is a teeming metropolis, with huge tower blocks crowding the few examples of colonial architecture that survived the bombing of the city during WWII. Many people use it only as a base for further travel, but the more adventurous will discover its friendliness and charm. Read more...
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Modern Manila is a teeming metropolis, with huge tower blocks crowding the few examples of colonial architecture that survived the bombing of the city during WWII. Many people use it only as a base for further travel, but the more adventurous will discover its friendliness and charm.
From overseas, most visitors arrive by plane. Manila is served by three international airports. Philippine Airlines (PAL) has its own terminal, called Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 (NAIA 2), that serves both international and domestic flights. PAL usually provides seamless transfers between their international and domestic network whereas you would generally not be given this service on other carriers.
All other international airlines use NAIA Terminal 1, which is due to be replaced by the newly built modern NAIA Terminal 3 (NAIA 3) in the near future; while other domestic airlines use the old domestic airport which is about a 5 to 10 minute ride from Terminal 1. Be wary of this if you have a connection between a domestic and international flight arriving/departing from these airports.
Coupon (pre-paid) taxis are available at the airports to bring you to your hotel or wherever you may be going. Rates are fixed and dependent on the destination and generally are more expensive compared to what you would pay in a metered taxi. Coupon taxi counters usually are found immediately after exiting customs in both Terminals 1 and 2. Expect to pay somewhere between 10 to 15 USD for destinations within Metro Manila. The usual metered taxis are generally not allowed at the Arrival Terminal so you would either need to catch one unloading at the Departure Area or outside the airport complex. This may be easier said than done however, particularly when lugging around kilos upon kilos of baggage.
Apart from taxis, there are no regular public transport services to the airports except for buses and jeepneys plying routes that pass nearby. It will take a few minutes' walk however before you get to a place where you can board and all this effort may not be worth the hassle so most opt to take the coupon taxis.
Low cost carriers such as Air Asiahttp://www.airasia.com/ and Tiger Airways utilize the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga, said to be a THREE HOUR drive north of Manila. These airlines have dedicated bus transfer services that transport passengers to and from the DMIA via newly renovated toll roads. You can catch the bus by Philtranco http://www.philtranco.com.ph/ either from it's terminal in Pasay City, Manila or from SM Megamall (behind building A) in Mandaluyong, Manila. From Pasay the fare is 350 pesos and from SM Megamall 300 pesos. Departure tax for this airport has been increased to 500 peso.
Air travel between islands is reasonably priced, with tickets averaging P4, 000 to P5, 000 round trip to most popular destinations. Promotions, particularly the Go fares offered by Cebu Pacific airlines, have pushed domestic roundtrip prices to the P2, 000-P3, 500 range.
Ferries run all over the Philippines, but should you not reserve a first class cabin be prepared for uncomfortable cramped conditions. There seems to be lax enforcement of Western safety standards.
Supercats and fastcrafts connect short distances between islands on high-speed air-conditioned hydrofoil crafts. Not only do they provide a faster option than ordinary ferries, they are also much better maintained and have a remarkable safety record. Among the major routes serviced by fastcrafts in and around Manila are: Manila-Bataan, Manila-Cavite and Batangas-Puerto Galera.
The Strong Republic Nautical Highway has made inter-island travel by bus possible. Major islands are connected by Roll On-Roll Off ferries which can carry cars, buses and cargo trucks. An example is the Manila to Boracay route which goes via Batangas, Calapan and Roxas in Mindoro then Caticlan. Philtranco http://www.philtranco.com.ph/d4/index.html and ALPS The Bus, Inc. http://www.alpsthebus.com serves various inter-island routes and has a terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. Needless to say however that these trips can take quite a bit of time and may not be worth the savings if you have only a few days to spend in the Philippines.
Normal provincial buses serving other parts of Luzon also have terminals in various portions of Metro Manila. The Cubao area in Quezon City and the Bonifacio Monument area in Kalookan City is where buses serving the northern portions of Luzon (e.g. Baguio, Zambales) have their terminals.
The Buendia Ave. cor Taft Ave. intersection in Makati and the area near the Taft Ave. and EDSA intersection in Pasay is where buses to the south (e.g. Batangas, Laguna) have their terminals.
When to go
Manila is distributed into 16 territorial districts, which are all original towns except one, the Port Area District. All of these original towns except Port Area have their own churches and several of these districts have attained identification in their own right.
The eight districts north of the Pasig River are: * Manila/Binondo|Binondo-country's Chinatown before the arrival of Spaniards in 1571 and the city's main center for business * Manila/Quiapo|Quiapo-Hometown of the Black Nazarene and also a place which offers cheap prices on items ranging from electronics to native handicrafts * Manila/Sampaloc|Sampaloc-means tamarind fruit is the district wherein the University of Santo Tomas, Asia's oldest university and the famous Dangwa Flower Market is located * Manila/San Miguel|San Miguel-known as the University Belt District and the location of residence of the Philippine Government, Malacañang Palace * Manila/San Nicolas|San Nicolas-shares Divisoria Flea Market with other co-district is the hub for the adventurous shoppers that may venture for cheap buys * Manila/Santa Cruz|Santa Cruz-is on the edge of Chinatown, which is the district of usual frenzied mix of commercial and residential premises * Manila/Santa Mesa|Santa Mesa-from the Spanish term Holy Mass, this district marks the first shot of the Filipino-American War * Manila/Tondo|Tondo-the largest, historically 1100 years old, it is one of the first provinces to be established and rebelled against Spain and is now the Southeast Asia's Most Densely Populated District
The other eight are: * Manila/Ermita|Ermita-one of the two Tourist Belt (another is the Malate district) is the former Red District and offers numeorus coin and antique shops aside from nightlife business * Manila/Intramuros|Intramuros-taken from the Latin, intra muros, literally with in the walls, the History Town of the Philippines and considered as Old Manila itself during Spanish times * Manila/Malate|Malate-the Gay Capital of the country which is known as the center of bohemian night life in the city and in the metropolis * Manila/Paco|Paco-lies city's historic but mysterious octagonal park cemetery * Manila/Pandacan|Pandacan-district home of many of the country's literary and musical geniuses * Manila/Port|Port-the country's chief seaport consisting of North and South Port where one can witness the dramatic sunset of Manila Bay * Manila/San Andres Bukid|San Andres Bukid-was previously part of Santa Ana, this district has a touch of Moslem culture and has a mosque * Manila/Santa Ana|Santa Ana-known as Sapa in ancient times, this district is the old capital of Namayan Kingdom which is the precursor of modern Metro Manila
Little is known of the society and history of the Philippines prior to the arrival of Europeans. Archaeological evidence shows a rich pre-colonial culture dominated by trade with Asian neighbours and with the powerful Hindu empires in Java and Sumatra. Trade ties with China were extensive by the 10th century, while contact with Arab traders reached its peak about the 12th century. By the time the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, Islam was well established in many parts of the island group.
Upon arrival, the Spanish really went out of their way to make their presence felt. They attempted (with reasonable success) to totally eradicate the terrible 'pagan' Filipino society. It wasn't all sangria and skittles, however, as the first attempt at colonisation ended with the swift death of explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. The Spanish grabbed what they could and high-tailed it out of there. Over 40 years later, with the Magellan incident just a bad memory, Spain headed in again. In 1565 Miguel de Legaspi made a more determined-and more successful-entry to the country on Cebu Island. Six years and innumerable skirmishes later, the Spaniards shifted base to Manila.
It is thought that the port of Manila, at the mouth of the Pasig River, was founded around the 12th century. The area along the river was by this stage already the site of exchange between local, Chinese and Arab traders. When Legaspi's Spaniards arrived, trade along the river was being controlled by a local leader named Sulayman. He evidently wasn't too happy about the arrival of the Europeans, torching everything in sight before fleeing to Tondo, across the river, to prepare a fighting force. The Battle of Bangkusay Channel on 3 June 1571 was fiercely fought, but the defenders' spears and arrows were no match for Castilian muskets and cannons. Sulayman fell in combat and his death marked the beginning of Spain's 327-year rule. Right after the Battle of Bangkusay Channel, Legaspi set about building Spanish Manila and spreading the Good News-and feudalism-far and wide. During the first two centuries of their occupation, trade was still the priority, with the Spaniards using the Philippines mainly as a connecting point for their China-Acapulco (Mexico) trade route.
With defeats in Europe adding to the decline in Spanish power, the Philippines became politically unstable through the 18th and 19th centuries. The 1896 execution of Jose Rizal-a noted scholar, doctor and passive supporter of independence-sparked a huge revolt that destabilised the Spanish even further. The Americans went to war with Spain two years later, and Spanish rule in the Philippines ended abruptly.
The Americans took over from the Spanish in 1899, using it as their base for a newer form of cultural imperialism-or 'tutelage', as they quaintly called it. The Philippines was quickly remodelled in America's own image. The islands were occupied by the Japanese throughout WWII, but at the end of the war-with the American presence re-established-independence was granted.
Although the Americans were more enlightened than their Spanish predecessors, there was still considerable resistance to their active presence in the country. When independence was attained the US imposed certain conditions, including the establishment of US-style political parties, the retention of US military bases and the signing of economic agreements allowing the US continued control over the Philippines economy.
In 1972, elected President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, which soon became total dictatorial control. His government was riddled with corruption, cronyism and economic mismanagement. When Marcos' main opponent, Benigno Aquino, was assassinated in 1983, opposition to his rule reached unprecedented heights with rioting on the streets of Manila. Marcos called an election in 1986 which both he and his rival, Corazon Aquino, claimed to have won. 'People Power' won out in the end as tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Manila in a defiant display of support for the popular opposition leader. Within days Marcos and his shoe-fetishist wife Imelda went into comfortable exile in Hawaii. Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989, leaving his wife to eventually face graft charges back home, although, despite overwhelming evidence, she was never convicted.
Corazon Aquino was unable to stem the tide of corruption endemic in the post-Marcos Philippines and she eventually handed over party leadership to Protestant Fidel Ramos. His rule ended the communist guerilla war that had been raging in the Philippines, but he too fell to a groundswell of popular support for aging B-grade movie actor Joseph Estrada in 1998. The Filipinos who elected Estrada got more personality than they bargained for-the president was impeached and stood trial in December 2000 for allegedly pocketing millions of dollars worth of bribes from local gambling syndicates, much of which it was claimed he used to build a lavish house for one of his several mistresses.
Estrada tried to stymie the trial proceedings by using his political connections to block access to his bank accounts; the people responded by stymieing his political future through mass demonstrations in mid-January 2001 that swiftly saw Estrada replaced by former vice-President Gloria Arroyo.
Arroyo's presidency has been sorely tested. Various separatist movements in the south have been linked to global terrorism, prompting the US to send military assistance. An attempted military coup on 27 July 2003 underscored the tensions that run below the surface of the country. A standoff lasting 20 hours ended when Arroyo issued a five-hour ultimatum. In June 2004 she won a second term as president. Soon thereafter, Arroyo was accused of election fraud and large numbers of Filipinos called for her resignation. However, she appears to have weathered this crisis.