ad info

TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia

Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

TIME Asia Asiaweek Asia Now TIME Asia story


M A N I L A   C I T Y   G U I D E

Manila Great for a Thrill, Or Just to Chill

Illustration for TIME by Emilio Rivera III

Filipinos have long been accustomed to welcoming visitors to their shores, from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (1521) to United States General Douglas MacArthur (who marched through the surf on Leyte beach in 1944). Guests are often given the best beds in the house, and locals are famed for their warmth and hospitality. But it only took a few disparaging remarks last year from American actress Claire Danes on her impressions of Manila ("ghastly" was the kindest of her comments) to raise the ire of both resident and overseas Filipinos. It also fired up local pride. While Ms. Danes won't be welcomed back in a hurry, the comments she made after shooting a film in the Philippines were a wakeup call to officials. If the tourism industry doesn't work harder to show off (and spruce up) its gateway city, visitors will continue to merely use it as a stepping stone on their way to a coastal dive spot or a resort getaway. In the meantime, here are some tips on how to get the most out of your stay--or stopover--in Manila.

In an attempt to get visitors to think beyond Boracay, Cebu and Palawan, the Department of Tourism in March launched "Rediscovery Adventure," a five-year campaign to promote the nation's culture and history. It's more than just flag-waving: funds have been allocated to preserve and rehabilitate natural and manmade areas of historical importance, such as Intramuros, the old walled city of Manila. Meanwhile, the capital city's movers and shakers are trying to promote Filipino culture. Perhaps nowhere else on the planet do visitors encounter a group of people who love to dance, sing and party as much as Manilenos. Sure, the city is crowded, chaotic and more than a little zany--it's all part of its appeal.

There's a good reason why locals are in motion, whether it's ballroom dancing, salsa shaking or karaoke crooning. At the forefront of the country's economic growth, Manila has evolved into a teeming metropolis of more than 10 million people. The city's rapid rise has fostered its bad reputation as a place of gridlock, greed and grime. And while residents agree that they live in a city of sometimes frustrating contradictions, they also say outsiders must look beyond surface problems to appreciate the heart of the city, which is in turn folksy and passionate, sophisticated and cool. Just take a look at Manila's architectural incongruities--glass and steel skyscrapers soar above stone-faced images of heroes past, while ancient churches vie for custom alongside modern shopping malls.

Officials are also quick to point out the advantages the city offers to the business traveler. Its strategic location at the heart of Asia means most other capitals are only a few hours' flying time away. Big-ticket infrastructure improvements, like the recently opened second terminal (with a third slated for completion by 2002) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, bode well for the future. Although there are still complaints (such as delays and red tape at customs), many visiting executives say that doing business in the country has become much easier in recent years, even if it still requires more than a modicum of time and patience.

Metro Manila gets down to business because its upscale financial district, Makati, works so smoothly. The expensive chunk of real estate is home to many upmarket hotels--Shangri-La, Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental and, next year, Ritz-Carlton--that stand alongside classy leisure facilities like the Ayala Center and the Greenbelt. During the day, well-heeled Pinoys and visitors cruise the sidewalks and avenues or browse the area's swank galleries and boutiques. (For local crafts, head to Tesoro's and Balikbayan Handicrafts behind the Ayala complex.) At night, the élite congregate in Makati's discos or in restaurants like Giraffe and Venezia. The Fort, a complex of chic eateries at Fort Bonifacio, is the latest trendy dining spot.

Though Filipino cuisine isn't well appreciated internationally, be sure to try local specialties like tapsilog (dried beef, garlic fried rice and egg) or sinigang fish broth with lime or tamarind. Seek out local flavors at hotspots like Barrio Fiesta, Josephine, Balaw-Balaw and Kalde-Kaldero (where the staff sing, with glee). It's the only true way to appreciate Manila--with taste, and style.

With reporting by Nelly Sindayen/Manila

Lonely Planet
When to Go
Facts at a Glance

Off the Beaten Track
Getting There & Away
Getting Around
Recommended Reading
View a Map

Back to the Manila City Guide Home

Click here for more information from Lonely Planet

Hot Tip
It's little wonder that Malate is known as the Greenwich Village or Left Bank of Manila

Short Cuts
Escape Manila's mayhem with a sidetrip to Corregidor

The island of Mindoro, four hours south of Manila, is a welcome and pleasant contrast to the congestion and chaos of the Philippine capital

Web Crawling
Manilenos share their tips for where to eat, drink and hang out

To Manila websites

Travel Watch Archive
ASIANOW Travel Home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN

Back to the top   © 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.