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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Manila Travel Guide
Manila Travel Guide and Manila Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
The capital is situated on the west coast of Luzon, the major island of the Philippines and encircled by fertile land. Manila straddles the delta of the Pasig River, a navigable stream that links the freshwater lake of Laguna de Bay with the large natural harbour of Manila Bay and the South China Sea. Manila is hot and muggy all year round, even though the climate is tempered by the sea breezes. Typhoons season is from May through November.

Manila, a accumulation of 17 towns and villages, were brought together in 1976 by President Marcos. Metro Manila is the true urban centre and located around the colonial capital of Intramuros and the other regions of Binondo, Ermita, Malate, Paco, Quipao and San Nicolas. The 38.3 sq kilometres or 15 square miles of urban development stretches out to the remote areas including Quezon City, Pasay City, Pasig City. Makati City, the main business area, hosts the majority of nightlife activities.

Manila Bay was a magnet for maritime traders in the past due to its strategic situation between the Old World’s silk and spices on the one side and the New World’s silver on the other.

The 1st foreign group of people to trade on the islands in 98AD were the Chinese. By the late 15th century, the Europeans sent Ferdinand Magellan westward to the Philippines in 1521. He claimed the islands for Spain, which took control of Manila (called Maynilad by early Muslim pioneers) in 1571.

Following the collapse of the Spanish Empire in 1898, the Philippines won independence after 327 years under Spanish rule. They were then controlled by the Americans from 1900-1942 and the Japanese from 1942-1945.

The Philippines regained democracy as a Republic after the end of the Japanese occupation in 1946. In 1965 Ferdinand Marcos was elected President. In 1972 anti-government riots gave him the excuse to declare martial law. He was ably assisted by his wife Imelda Marcos, who was the then governor of Metro Manila. Real democracy was achieved by the Filipinos after the "People Power Revolution" in 1986 that led to the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship. It is still one of the strongest democracies in Asia and the current president is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Manila is a lesson in contrasts. The disparity between the rich and poor is evident with the palatial neighbourhoods around Makati contrasting with squatter camps along the river where the needy scavenge to survive. A large section of Manila still remains caught up in the Third World and democracy has brought little change. More than one hundred of cultural minority groups live in the country which also reflects the country’s cultural diversity.

Manila’s is an overwhelming city and can seem very chaotic if you are not prepared for it. The noise, traffic, pollution, poverty and often-shabby infrastructure makes the capital seem intimidating. Manila’s strength, the friendliness and good humour of its people can become infectious.