With virtually the whole of Intramuros destroyed during World War II, this is the only remaining repository of the wealth that was once a common feature of Manila's churches. Formerly a monastery, the museum comprises two floors interconnected by a grand staircase. The various rooms and hallways display paintings, santos (religious statues, usually of carved wood or ivory), gold and silver ornaments, liturgical vestments, chests, and altars. It is an artistic treasure house that illustrates the richness of Philippine history and culture.
Unique in Asia, this was a European-style medieval fortified city that functioned as the seat of government from 1571 to 1898. The massive walls stretch some 4.5 kilometers, enclosing a 64-hectare area once occupied by palaces, churches, monasteries, schools and wealthy residences ('Intramuros' means 'inside the walls'). Sadly, the whole city was razed to the ground by bombings conducted by American forces when they recaptured Manila from the Japanese in 1945. Today most of the walls, gates and bulwarks have been restored, affording visitors a glimpse into the past.
Constructed in 1587-1604, San Agustin Church is the oldest surviving church in the Philippines. It was the only building left intact when Intramuros was reduced to rubble during the Liberation of Manila in 1945. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a mandatory destination for any Manila visitor interested in history and culture. Concealed behind the imposing facade is an elaborately decorated Baroque-style interior. Throughout the nave and six side chapels are fixtures of great artistic and historical significance.
Filipinos and foreigners alike can view some of the Philippines' historic and cultural treasures in this Museum of the Filipino People. Among the many displays here, the galleries devoted to the San Diego galleon merit special mention. Porcelain plates, coins, jewelry, armaments and other artifacts recovered from the sunken battleship present revelatory glimpses of 17th century life. The Story of the Filipino People is another must-see for all visitors.
If you are young or young at heart, you will certainly find plenty of "enchantment" at this amusement park. There are seven zones with rides in each: Spaceport, Jungle Outpost, Midway Broadwalk, Brooklyn Place, Portobello, Victoria Park and Boulderville. Among the thrillers is an 11-story roller coaster named Space Shuttle, a huge Ferris wheel and a water ride called Jungle Log Jam. Automated teller machines, a first-aid station, a paging and message center, and storage lockers are located throughout the park.
Grab that microphone and belt your heart out at this ever-popular karaoke bar. It is frequented by all sorts of characters, including professional entertainers (singers and stand-up comedians) hired by the bar to amuse the crowds. Patrons come here mainly to get onstage themselves and display their own singing prowess. The decor is strictly for bookworms--floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with leather-bound books (fakes, of course). Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are served with savory snacks.
Located behind the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park, Manila Ocean Park is one of the city's most popular family attractions. An oceanarium covering an area of 8,000 square meters (86,000 square feet), this attraction is fun, entertaining and educational for kids and adults of all ages. Among its most popular features are the 25 meter (82 foot) underwater acrylic tunnel that allows visitors to view ocean life first-hand; the Musical Fountain Show that offers a dazzling show of fire, music and lasers; and the Fish Spa, which offers pampering and relaxation. Open 365 days a year, including holidays, this is one of Manila's must-see attractions.
This is where Presidents of the Philippines traditionally take their oath of office and deliver their first address to the nation (Joseph Estrada broke with tradition and had his inauguration at Barasoain Church, site of the drafting of the Philippines' first democratic constitution). Many important political, cultural and religious events in the post war era have been held here, including the mammoth festivities that capped the 1998 Philippine Centennial Celebration. Marking a hundred years since the declaration of independence from Spain, the festivities culminated in the greatest fireworks display ever witnessed over Manila Bay.
Immediately after his execution by a firing squad on 30 December 1896, the body of Filipino nationalist martyr Dr. Jose Rizal was hastily buried by the Spanish authorities in a makeshift grave which was intentionally mis-marked so as to mislead his followers. Rizal's remains were exhumed two years later and moved to the family home where they remained until 1912, when they were once more exhumed and laid to rest beneath this monument. Guarded by sentries dressed in full regalia, the Rizal Monument stands as a symbol of Filipino nationhood.
Established in 2001, the Museum of Philippine Political History was set up in order to educate the people about the functioning of various government systems that shaped the political scenario for the country. Hereby, it sheds more light on the trend of developments each government has taken in the past, and helps encourage action so as to help safeguard the republican values.
Dr. Jose Rizal was sentenced to death by the Spanish colonial authorities on the grounds that the nationalist ideas contained in his two novels (Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo) were fomenting revolution. Rizal's death was a turning point in Philippine and, in a larger context, Asian history. The Philippine Revolution followed not long after his execution, ushering in Asia's first democracy. Here, on the actual site of his execution, eight clusters of life size bronze statues depict 'The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal', highlighted with an evening light and sound presentation.
Ermita (Spanish for "hermitage") Church takes its name from the fact that there once stood on this site a shrine and hermitage dedicated to a greatly venerated image of the Virgin Mary called Nuestra Senora de Guia, or Our Lady of Guidance. Legend has it that the image was found on a pandan bush along the shore of Manila Bay on the evening of May 19, 1571, the day the Spanish colonizers took over Manila. The image, believed to be miraculous, is still housed in this church. It has been declared "Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Senora de Guia".