Manila City

Let me tell you about Manila! It’s a city pulsing with life, and it’s got a rhythm all its own. It’s where the old and the new play an endless game of tag, where skyscrapers and centuries-old cathedrals stand shoulder to shoulder.

Ever seen a sunset that could break your heart? Manila Bay got you covered. The sunset there is like a symphony – an explosion of colors that could make poets weep. But the beauty of Manila isn’t just in its sights. Nope! It’s also in the heart and spirit of its people.

Manileños, as the locals are called, are a cheerful bunch. Their smiles are as warm as the tropical sun, and their resilience is as strong as the jeepneys that color the city streets. You’ll never meet a stranger in Manila, because everyone’s got a story they’re eager to share.

So, why Manila? Well, why not? With its rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant life, it’s a city that’s got a song for everyone. The real question is, are you ready to dance to Manila’s beat?

Manila Harbour View by night
By Thomas Yie – Manila Harbour View by night, CC BY 2.0

History of Manila City

Manila, the capital of the Philippines, carries a rich and intricate history that spans centuries. Its story reveals a tale of transformation, resilience, and cultural fusion. Let’s delve into the timeline of Manila, starting from its earliest recorded history.

Around the 13th century, a fortified polity known as the Kingdom of Tondo emerged. This Tagalog maritime state thrived along the shores of the Pasig River. The early civilization engaged in trade with its Asian neighbors, fostering a vibrant community known for its robust economy.

Moving forward, in 1571, Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi arrived and declared Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies. This marked the beginning of the city’s 333-year Spanish colonial period. During this time, Manila went through major transformations. The Spanish erected Intramuros, a walled city, which stands today as a testament to the era’s European influence.

Transitioning into the 19th century, the Cry of Pugad Lawin in 1896 signaled the start of the Philippine Revolution against Spanish rule. Not long after, in 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out. The Treaty of Paris, signed in the same year, ended the war and ceded the Philippines to the United States for $20 million. This signified the commencement of American colonial rule, during which Manila experienced significant urban development.

World War II

However, a dark period overshadowed Manila during World War II. In 1942, Japanese forces invaded and occupied the city. This occupation lasted until 1945 when the city was liberated by joint Filipino and American forces. Unfortunately, this period, particularly the Battle of Manila, resulted in massive destruction and loss of life.

Post-war, Manila faced the challenge of rebuilding. It was during this time that the city saw rapid economic growth and urbanization, transforming into a bustling metropolis. The Philippines gained independence from the United States on July 4, 1946, and Manila officially became the capital of the newly independent Republic of the Philippines.

In the 1970s and 80s, under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Manila was the center of political unrest and martial law. However, the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution marked a turning point, restoring democracy and leading to significant political changes.

Today, Manila stands as a city of contrasts—where the past meets the present, where resilience is etched into the cityscape, and where a diverse culture thrives. Its rich history continues to shape its identity, making it a fascinating city to explore.

Food Cuisine in Manila City

Manila boasts a vibrant and diverse food scene. This culinary diversity reflects the city’s rich cultural history, blending Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and American influences.

First, let’s dive into the bustling streets of Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown. Here, the aroma of freshly cooked noodles and dumplings fills the air. You can find vendors skillfully preparing pork siomai, a type of steamed dumpling, or ladling out bowls of savory mami, a popular noodle soup. For dessert, hop over to a nearby stall that sells hopia, a pastry filled with sweet bean paste that is a local favorite.

Next, make your way to Intramuros, the historic heart of Manila. In this walled city, Spanish influences shine through in the local cuisine. Savor a plate of adobo, a dish where meat, usually chicken or pork, is marinated and cooked in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and spices. Pair it with a serving of sinigang, a sour soup that gets its distinctive tang from tamarind. After the main course, satisfy your sweet tooth with leche flan, a creamy caramel custard that’s a staple in Filipino celebrations.

Then, head to the bustling district of Malate. Here, American influences take center stage. Feast on a plate of Filipino-style spaghetti, which is sweeter and typically topped with hot dogs or ground meat. Don’t miss out on trying a Jollibee-style chicken, a fried chicken dish that’s often served with gravy and rice.

Finally, visit the trendy neighborhoods of Makati or Bonifacio Global City. These areas are known for their contemporary takes on traditional Filipino food. You might enjoy a modern twist on pancit, a stir-fried noodle dish, or sample a fusion dish that combines elements of Filipino and Western cuisines.


Manila offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors. The city is home to several museums, including the National Museum of the Philippines, the Ayala Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. These museums offer a glimpse into the country’s rich history and culture.

For those interested in shopping, Manila has several bustling markets and shopping malls. The city is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from.

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Manila Led Signage

Tourist Spots in Manila City

To start, let’s dive into the heart of Manila, Intramuros. Known as the “Walled City,” this historic district is where you can see a glimpse of the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. Walking along its cobblestone streets, you’ll discover centuries-old churches, like the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church. Both of these architectural gems are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with San Agustin Church being the oldest stone church in the country.

Moving on from Intramuros, Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is just a short walk away. This park is more than just a green oasis in the middle of a bustling city; it’s a monument to the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Here, you can also find the National Museum of the Philippines, which houses an extensive collection of archaeological, anthropological, and art pieces.

Next, let’s hop over to the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex. This venue is the center for the performing arts and is home to the prestigious Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. If you’re lucky, you might catch a world-class performance or an international film festival during your visit.

For a shopping spree, the Mall of Asia is the place to be. Not only is it one of the largest malls in the world, but it also offers a stunning view of Manila Bay, especially during sunset. From high-end boutiques to local craft stores, this mall has something for everyone.

Lastly, don’t miss out on Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown. Here, you can indulge in a food trip, trying out authentic Chinese and Filipino-Chinese dishes. You can also visit the Binondo Church and explore the bustling street markets, where a variety of goods from fresh produce to traditional Chinese medicines are sold.

Festivals and Events

To kick off the year, Manila indulges in the “Feast of the Black Nazarene” every January. Thousands of devotees flock to Manila’s streets to participate in this religious procession, showcasing their faith and devotion.

As spring begins to unfurl in February, the city turns its attention to arts and culture with the “Pasinaya Festival”. The Cultural Center of the Philippines opens its doors to locals and tourists alike, offering a variety of performances across multiple genres. From dance and music to film and visual arts, this open-house festival truly brings Manila’s creative spirit to life.

Next, the city transitions into celebration mode in March for the “Manila Summer Festival”. This event showcases the city’s vibrant lifestyle, with a month-long series of concerts, food festivals, and sports activities. The festival is a great way to welcome the summer season, attracting both locals and tourists to participate in the fun-filled activities.

As the city ushers in the rainy season in June, Manila commemorates its foundation day, also known as “Araw ng Maynila”. This event features a variety of activities such as parades, beauty pageants, and fireworks displays. It’s a great opportunity for both residents and visitors to learn about Manila’s rich history and cultural heritage.

October brings with it the “La Naval de Manila”. This grand religious procession honors the Virgin of the Rosary of La Naval. The event is marked by a massive procession featuring a centuries-old image of the Virgin Mary, followed by thousands of devotees.

Lastly, as December rolls in, the city sparkles with the “Giant Lantern Festival”, where different neighborhoods compete to create the most beautiful and intricate giant lanterns. This festival serves as a bright and festive end to the year, illuminating the city with brilliant colors and designs.


So, are you ready to create your own Manila story? Because Manila is more than just a city, it’s a living, breathing symphony that’s waiting for you to join in. Remember, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And in Manila, every step you take is a new verse in your personal city song. So, what are you waiting for? Isn’t it about time to let Manila sing to you?

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