Bangladesh Slideshow

10 May, 2009

Metro Manila

The name of the city has always sounded most cosmopolitan to her. It is not just any city, but a teeming metropolis of cities within a city. Metro Manila is the total urban area that is composed of seven cities and the surrounding urban fringe of nine towns - 636 square kilometers inhabited by more than 10 million people!!! The actual city of Manila is only one of the cities in this urban agglomeration. Known in Tagalog as Kalakhang Maynila or Kamaynilaan, Metro Manila is the National Capital Region of the Philippines. It is an interesting fact that while Metro Manila as a whole is the Philippines' seat of government, yet only the City of Manila is the capital of the country.

The origins of Manila can be traced to the Muslim settlement of May Nilad, a prosperous trading port. The name means "'where the blossoming water plants grow'. Conquered by the Spanish in 1571, it soon evolved into a province, and continued to grow despite adversities such as numerous Chinese attacks upon the Spanish, a brief period of British occupation, and the two World Wars.

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This metropolis was the Blogging Girl's most recent destination. She arrived prepared to be awed (God knows why, for she had known other mega cities), and was. From her 18th floor hotel window, she could see mile after mile of skyscrapers, and on her walks to her place of work and around town, she marched shoulder to shoulder with the populace. She was even addressed in Tagalog a number of times, making her feel that she belonged!

But it saddened her to see some people living in abject poverty, in makeshift houses, and on the streets. Reminded her of home, sigh!

Weather and traffic conditions seemed to conspire against all her sightseeing plans. But one day her meetings finished early, and she hopped into a taxi to go to the old Spanish city of Intramuros.

It was like being transported back in time...

Fort Santiago was the first Spanish settlement of the area. Initially a log and earth structure, it was later rebuilt in stone. It now houses a shrine to the national hero Jose Rizal.

The Fort had a beautifully landscaped garden. Complete with strategically placed benches to give a breather to those tired feet!

She hired a Calesa to take her around town. Her carriage was drawn by a handsome blood bay called Big Boy!

On her way back, she just had to take a detour to walk along the Manila Bay.

Metro Manila is a shoppers paradise, and when the Blogging Girl says paradise, you'd better believe her!There were five malls within walking distance of her hotel, including the massive SM Mega Mall. The Metro Manila traffic condition does not encourage commuting, so she walked from one mall to the next in blissful anticipation. Returning laden with packages only when she could not carry anything more.

She mainly bought Capiz items for her home. Capiz is both a geographical location and the name of a shell that is used largely in interior decorating and for decorative accent items and accessories. Geographically speaking, Capiz is a province of the Philippines facing the Sibuyan Sea to the north. The Capiz shell, which is used for decorative purposes, is the outer shell of the marine mollusk, Placuna placenta, found in the shallow coastal waters of the Philippines. The Capiz shell is a flat, semi-transparent shell with a gold-tint mother-of-pearl appearance.

And despite dubbing the city the "Ugly Shoe Capital of the World" on her first foray into the malls, she managed to buy quite a few pairs of shoes.

She was in the city of the famed Imelda Marcos after all. It was a kind of obligation!

So she returned home with a bit of a dent in her wallet, but she returned happy. And isn't that the most important thing in the whole world?