Philippines – Manila

Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is surprisingly its second biggest city although I suspect if you include the metropolitan area that might be different.

From our experience it’s a sprawling city with relatively poor transport options which makes for crowded roads. The taxis may be cheap but getting anywhere is a nightmare!

We thought we would seek out some places to see in this crazy city and headed to the old town, the Citadel, a city within the city walls.

There are some good areas to check out within the InterMuros, this is what remains of the fortified city, which was the seat of power during Spanish Colonial times (1521-1898).

The city had to defend itself from many other imperialist nations over the years.

In the Second World War during the Japanese occupation of Manila parts of the citadel was used as a jail.

Upon its liberation in 1946, the US army found 600 decomposing corpses inside the Fort Santiago dungeons. The conditions were so cramped that all prisoners died from suffocation and heat exhaustion. The bodies were subsequently buried en masse on a site near the dungeons which is now marked by a white marble cross.

There is also a museum to recognise the life and execution of Jose Rizal within the citadel walls. Executed by the Spanish for inciting revolutionary ideas and actions, now a national hero.

The Manila cathedral sits within the Citadel walls too and is worth a visit.

The Baluarte de San Diego is worth a look around too, one of a number of defensive points along the citadel walls.

This one now defending its visitors from errant golf balls from those play golf along the city walls at this point! Not sure these walls could manage my slice 😉

The tuk tuk below had an environmental bent, not sure it worked out in practice and whether a driver could have seen much!

The building is now the National museum of Fine Arts but was originally constructed to be a National Library but it ended up becoming a legislative building and the chambers can still be seen.

The Manila National Art Gallery was also a good visit, its a short walk from the Citadel,

During the Japanese occupation and their defence, the building was damaged, but has since been restored.

Our last visit was to this totally incongruous place that mimics Venice. In this crazy city it stands out like some strange folly.

Feeling i might be in Las Vegas right now!

Worth a surreal visit, its not far from the US War cemetery but somehow feels like it shouldn’t be here!

Thats the last call on the Philippines, its been a wonderful experience and somewhere we may well return. The people are so friendly, its a relatively clean and open environment with still so much that’s relatively undeveloped if you seek it out.

Next stop is Vietnam.

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