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!
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