I Love Manila
One of my first posts was about Plaza Ferguson, the plaza between the shrine of Nuestra Sra De Guia and the US Embassy. It’s the plaza that I can see outside my office window and the plaza I pass through whenever I go to the nearby Starbucks for lunch or a quick coffee break.
That post was almost 3 years ago. I’m still here and Plaza Ferguson is still here. Much has improved since then… it’s cleaner now, there’s now a fountain courtesy of the local baranggay chieftain, there are less “street people” now and, recently, an amateur orchestra now plays once a week. I know that this plaza will still improve and, perhaps someday, Plaza Ferguson will be one of this city’s jewels.
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I had the opportunity to visit Seoul and its surrounding provinces of Gangwon and Gyeonggi again, but this time in winter last December. That trip was amazing.
To begin with, it was my first time to see and touch real snow. That, in itself, already made the trip very memorable and a different experience altogether. I’ve learned that a place, especially a bustling city like Seoul, takes on a different character in winter.. elegant and serene but in a melancholy way. Most of the places I visited on this trip were the same ones that I went to in my first trip 2 years ago, but that was in the summer. In winter time, it’s almost as if these same places now had a dream-like quality with their cloak of white powder.
Korea, Seoul in particular, was a destination that brought a smile to my face in my first trip. On this second trip, in wintertime, it became something special.
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For as long as I can remember, there’s always been a lot of hype over Bali as a leisure destination. That brings about a mixed reaction of curiosity and, simultaneously, skepticism. Nice beaches… we’ve got better in the Philippines. Unique countryside… dime a dozen all over in Asia. Amazing arts and culture… there are much older and richer Art & Cultre scenes in other places. So I’ve been thinking that way and sort of challenging Bali to answer my question: “so what is it with you, huh ?” My question was answered in a big way last week when I made my first visit.
Yes, there are the beaches. The most famous, of course, is Kuta Beach. This 5 kilometer-long stretch is the island’s most popular and, consequently, busiest. Kuta attracts the sunbathers, surfers, party people and the sight-seeing tourist alike. The street approaching Kuta beach, Jalan Pantai Kuta, and bordering it, Jalan Legian, are teeming with resorts, restaurants, pubs and stores of all shapes and sizes so the road can get quite congested. At the same time though, this gives the area its beach party vibe. Kuta is adjoined to the north by Legian and Seminyak beaches which are quieter with its more upscale resorts and shops. Further south is the exclusive enclave of Nusa Dua where global brand names such as the Westin, Four Seasons and the Grand Hyatt are situated making this yet another face of Bali seafront.
A tour of Bali’s interior countryside may sound mundane to one who hasn’t experienced it yet. This, however, was the highlight of my Bali trip. Going into Bali’s interior is like entering into another dimension; an Arts & Culture paradise. The small villages in Bali’s interior are home to Bali’s artisans and craftsmen; painters, stone sculptors, wood carvers, batik makers, silver and gold smiths all creating an intoxicating array of beautiful works of art. There is a certain, almost subliminal, spirituality in these villages; their creations aren’t just their work, it’s the way of life in their village. All roads from these villages lead to Ubud, the main town and the epicenter of this Arts & Culture scene. Ubud is the best place to see traditional Balinese architecture as well. Wikitravel also notes that in Ubud pervades a “general feeling of wellness… all thanks to the spirit, surroundings and climate of the place”.
The northwest coast of Bali is a rugged coastline where the sea pounds on the dramatic cliffs forming this part of the island. This part of the island is the home of the 600-year old Tanah Lot temple; Bali’s most iconic landmark and most important temple. The juxtaposition of the serene Tanah Lot temple and surrounding structures with the rugged cliffs being lashed by Indian Ocean waves is both breathtaking and spellbinding with a dreamlike quality.
It’s the combination of all these – the different beaches, the arts & culture landscape and the dramatic sceneries that make Bali what it is.. a destination truly deserving of the hype and praises lavished upon it. I feel kind of sheepish having doubted and challenged Bali’s allure in the first place. “Never do that again, my friend”, Bali would tell me, if it were a person, and envelop me with its charm as it has with so many visitors from all over the planet.
Panoramic triscape from Harbour Square, CCP Complex.
Photo by John Niño
Manila possesses the greatest resources for recreation and refreshment in its river and its ocean bay. Whatever portions of either have been given up to private use should be reclaimed where possible, and such portions as are still under public control should be developed and forever maintained for the use and enjoyment of the people.
-D. H. Burnham, Report on the General Plan on the Improvement of Manila
The harbor of Manila Bay is justly famous worldwide for having one of the best sunset views. With just one swerve from the City Hall, Manila might lose one of its greatest assets forever with reclamation of the bayside from the coastline of the US Embassy to the Manila Yacht Club. The Baywalk is almost a kilometer long, so that’s quite a big area already. The reclaimed bayside will be home to another High Density District complete with skyscrapers and other ultramodern city delights. For a congested city like the City of Manila, another High Density District is the last thing you’ll be building on it, as it badly needs parks and other public recreational facilities as its breathing space. Undoubtedly, the harbor view of the sunset is one of these rare city delights.
As I believe that a city’s progress, identity and beauty is not alone measured by concrete and skyscrapers, saving the bay for the enjoyment not just for the Manilenos from all walks of life, but also for the whole nation is better than to have a few businessman benefitting from that place.
On February 12, 2013, the Heritage Conservation Society and the Heritage Conservation Society - Youth will hold a synchronized sunset viewing and and Human Chain at the Manila Baywalk at 4PM. Our group, the JaywalkersPH, supports this advocacy and we are actually encouraging you to attend the said event and learn more about the impending reclamation project. Register here: http://bit.ly/U7oYhs. Also, show your support here in Tumblr (and twitter too!) through the tag: #SaveManilaBay
PS: I think it would be nice to attach some nice photographs of the Manila Bay sunset to highlight what’s at stake in this issue. Photos courtesy of (from upper left clockwise) some JaywalkersPH members. Click on the photos to know who owns the photograph and as well as their sites.
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I Love Manila
Quite recently I’ve “discovered” a new view of Manila which, I have to admit, I’ve grown to be fond of. It’s from the Sky Deck bar and lounge on the roof top of the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros.
The Bayleaf Hotel is a relatively new hotel located within the old walled city and it has become very popular with foreign visitors and local residents alike. Owing to its location within Intramuros wherein no tall structures can be situated besides it, it guarantees unobstructed 360-degree views of the city around it. To the north, one can see the old post office building, the Metropolitan theater, the rooftops of the Quiapo district including the dome of the Quiapo church and the northern sprawl of the metropolis beyond. The Manila city hall and the skyline of Makati are laid out on its east side. On the west, one has the rest of Intramuros including the Manila Cathedral, the Manila Hotel and a serene Manila Bay for one to take in.
It’s the view to the south and southeast, however, that has captured my heart. On the foreground is part of the greens of the Intramuros Golf Club. Sitting front and center is the poignantly majestic National Museum building which used to be the home of the Philippine senate. Providing a perfect background are the buildings of the Ermita district capped by a blue-grey sky.
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