Sunday, September 04, 2011

Postcards from Manila...Pearl of the Orient

There are some cities that make you feel warm and fuzzy when you return back to them after a long gap – and until I landed and was whizzing past familiar roads and buildings I didn’t realize Manila was one of those cities for me. I was just here on works, but loved the familiarity with both the people I was to be meeting and also the city.

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From above, the city is beautiful. We pass over brown water off the coast, fish pens laid out in geometrical patterns like a Mondrian viewed by someone colour blind. Over the bay, the sunset is starting, the famous sunset, like none anywhere else. Skeptics attribute its color to pollution. Over there’s the land, the great gray sprawl of eleven million people living on top of each other on barely more than 240 square miles – fourteen cities and three municipalities, sky scrapers and shanties, tumbling beyond kilometer zero, and the heart of every Filipino, the city that gave the metro its name: Manila.

Modern Manila. She who was once the Pear of the Orient is now a dowager…She, the trusting daughter of the East and the West, lay down and was destroyed, her beauty carper-bombed by her liberators, cautious of their own casualties, her ravishment making her kindred to Hiroshima, Stalingrad and Warsaw. And yet, from air, you think her peaceful and unflustered. On the ground is a place tangled with good intentions and a tyrannical will to live…. Five hundred years ago, Spanish conquistadors sailed their wooden ship into the world’s most perfect harbor to begin their mission…. Manila has changed much since. It’s changed so little. If you know where to look, this is the most exciting city in the world.


-An extract from the Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco

PS: Didn't know what the square grids on the water when seen from above was, now I do!
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A rainy September day in Manila




The EDSA, one of the highways criss crossing the city




The famous jeepneys in the city




Makati - the business district at night

5 comments:

Meena Venkataraman said...

Beautiful pictures!.. Its a lovely lovely city. Been there twice and loved it both times

Sneo said...

rainy days are quite a popper, esp in Manila. though I liked the greens in Intramuros springing to action, I couldn't quite enjoy the city itself.

sneha.april@gmail.com

Nisha said...

Oh, this looks so familiar! For me, Manila is not one of the best cities but it has its own warmth. Have been there & felt many similarities to India. I liked the rural areas of Philippines more.

Haddock said...

Spanish people are warm hearted.

Ms.N said...

@ MV... thanks!

@ Sneo, Nisha - understandable...I like the familiarity, and yes, exploring its other parts is the hope!