Constructed between 1587 to 1607, San Agustin Church is the oldest surviving stone church in the Philippines. It was the only structure which endured the damages sustained by Intramuros in 1945. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a must-see 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 side chapels are fixtures of great artistic and historical significance. A museum is also located on the premises.
Housed within an accurate reconstruction of a 19th century Manila residence, Casa Manila gives you an glimpse into life back then. Each room is set up in period style and decorated with antique furniture chandeliers, lamps, paintings, vases and bric-a-brac. Starting from the kitchen on the top floor, walk down the adobe staircase past an old well and enjoy some reflective moments at the central courtyard and fountain.
Any passerby will quickly notice this castle-like structure standing prominently on one side of the long highway. The first shopping mall in the northeastern part of Metro Manila, Ever Gotesco Commonwealth houses more than 70 retail, service and dining outlets. There are also tiangges (collections of stalls) on different levels, selling a wide variety of home and personal items at bargain prices. The general ambiance is casual and comfortable. Amusement centers, a bingo hall and eight movie houses add to the enjoyment of visitors.
The 1960s saw the emergence of a new business district in the then sleepy municipality of Makati. The Spanish-Filipino conglomerate of Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala developed the district by first establishing this main thoroughfare which cuts through to Highway 54 (now known as Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, or EDSA). Towards the end of the decade, Ayala Avenue emerged as the main artery of the Makati business area. Many major banks, multi-national corporations and embassies are located here.
Looking at its Gothic spires, one would not think that San Sebastian is constructed of prefabricated steel. The story goes that the Augustinian Recollect Order, having seen their church thrice leveled to the ground by earthquakes, decided to have the new one cast in steel so that it would endure Manila's temblors. With its vaulted ceilings, jewel-like stained glass windows and generally romantic air, San Sebastian is understandably a much-favored venue for weddings.
These small but lovely gardens are laid out by the remnants of the defensive moat that used to surround Intramuros. From here you catch a glimpse of Puerta Real, the royal gate that was reserved for stately processions, and a section of Intramuros' moss-covered walls. With their highly evocative atmosphere, Puerta Real Gardens provide a fitting venue for Intramuros Evenings, a series of cultural shows staged annually under the management of the Intramuros Administration.
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.
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".
Roxas Boulevard is one of Manila's best known landmarks. Named Dewey Boulevard during the American colonial period, it was given its present name to honor the Philippines' first elected president, Manuel Roxas, after the country gained independence in 1946. Offering the most scenic drive in the whole of Manila, this 10-kilometer oceanfront boulevard goes past other landmarks such as Intramuros, Rizal Park and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Hotels, museums, condominiums and office buildings line one side of the road, while an animated scene of strollers, joggers and hawkers can be observed along Manila Bay.