Manila is the capital city of the Philippines where political power, commerce and trade are centered.   It is the main gateway of the Philippines to the rest of the world.    

Located at an isthmus along the shores of Manila Bay, the city grew up from a fishing village at the mouth of the Pasig River where once a mangrove species that bloom a white flower flourished.   This mangrove was called a 'nilad' and locals called the area as 'may nilad' which translates as a place that has nilad.  Through the years that place was known as Maynilad and evolved to the current local name of Maynila or Manila as it is known internationally. 

Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521, a settlement and form of government already ruled in the village.  Arab and Chinese traders have already been trading with the locals but with the arrival of the Spaniards, Manila was converted as the capital of the Spanish colony in 1571. 

The walled city of Intramuros was built on the old kingdom of the Rajah that ruled the village during that period.  Within the walls, the high officials of the government, the church and influential people are allowed to live. 

During WWII, Manila fell to the Japanese Empire after bombs almost flattened the whole city into the ground.  Manila was considered to be the second most destructed city in the world. 

Manila lost its capital status for a few years when Quezon City was declared capital during the Commonwealth Period but the city was later reinstated as the capital. 

After the war, people started to move into the city and residential enclaves were developed in adjacent towns.  Later on these towns grew into cities and along with the city of Manila they incorporated the political region called the National Capital Region or more known as Metro Manila.   

Today, the whole Metro Manila region is considered to be among the most populous cities in the world.   Manila also became modern with high rise structures reshaped its landscape. 

Suburbs of Metro Manila 

Metropolitan Manila was formed in 1975 which included 13 municipalities and 4 cities.  Recently all of the municipalities except for one have been transformed into cities.  Majority of these cities served as the residential enclaves of the inner cities of the metropolis. 

Metro Manila 

Metro Manila is made of the following cities:  Manila, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela and the municipality of Pateros. 


Quezon City 
Quezon City is the most populous city in the country and once was installed as the Philippine capital for a few years.  Makati is the center of finance in the country where major businesses, banks, and embassies are located. Mandaluyong, Pasig and Taguig also feature emerging business centers in the metro.   

Points of Interest 

Intramuros - This is the old walled city of Manila where government officials, religious congregations, and influential people were only allowed.

Fort Santiago - Located at the northern tip of Intramuros, this fortress guarded the mouth of Pasig River and was the fortress where the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal was imprisoned.

Rizal Park - It is the largest open public park in the Philippines that commemorates the heroism of Dr. Jose Rizal.  The Rizal Monument located in the park marks the same location where the hero was killed by firing squad.

San Agustin Church - One of the four baroque churches in the Philippines that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is located within Intramuros.

Manila Ocean Park - An ocean park that features marine life within the Philippine seas and is located along the shores of Manila Bay.

Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex - A complex of buildings that is the center of cultural entertainment and local arts.

Malacañan Palace - This is the presidential palace that lies on the banks of Pasig River.

Binondo - A district of Manila where Chinatown is located and was the residence of Chinese traders even since the Spanish colonial period.

Quiapo - A center of religious faith where the image of the Black Nazarene is housed within Quiapo Church. Nearby is Escolta which used to be the center of commerce in the old Manila area.

University of Santo Tomas - This is an university that is open to the public and is considered to be the oldest university in the country that was inaugurated in 1611.


Baywalk and San Miguel By The Bay - These are open public promenade parks that offer a great view of Manila Bay.  San Miguel By The Bay is located within the SM Mall of Asia complex. Manila Bay sunset cruises may be found along this parks.


Bonifacio Monument - This monument located in Caloocan was erected in the honor of Andres Bonifacio, the father of the Philippine Revolution.

Quezon Memorial Circle - This is a circular park located in Quezon City where the Quezon Memorial Monument was erected in tribute to Manuel Quezon who was the Philippine President during the Commonwealth period. 

Shopping and Nightlife 
All around Metro Manila, different malls provides locals and visitors with a distinct shopping experience.  Among the major malls chains in the country, SM has the most presence in the region and the rest of the country.  Also aside from malls, bargain areas are also located all over the metro.  The following are some of the shopping destination within Manila. 

SM Mall of Asia 
Currently ranks as the 4th largest mall in the world, it is among the mall chains prime shopping destination.  It hosts the first IMAX cinema in the country, a science discovery center, a planetarium, a promenade park, a music hall, and an Olympic size skating rink.

Ayala Center - This commercial center located in Makati is a complex of high end malls, restaurants, a museum, 5 star hotels, and open parks.  The Glorietta and Greenbelt malls offer shoppers a lot of choices.

Greenhills Shopping Center - This is a shopping enclave in San Juan is best known for electronic and gaming items.  Also this is a great place to haggle for knock offs and imitated items like apparel, bags, and shoes.


Bonifacio High Street - This is an open air mall where shops line up along a kilometer long open park with well manicured landscaping and public art works.

Divisoria - This is a district in the city of Manila that has been known to locals as a bargain area where almost all items may be bought at the cheapest possible price.  This is a very crowded area where shoppers and street vendors make their bargains.  Shoppers are generally reminded that pickpockets are common in this very crowded market area. 

With the great expanse in area of Metro Manila, bars and drinking joints are scattered.   

Malate Area - Located near the old red light district of Ermita in Manila, this area offers visitors a lot of different choices to enjoy the lively Manila nightlife.  Some of these bars are also located near the boulevard along Manila Bay.

Greenbelt - Located in Ayala Center Makati, this is one of the liveliest places that are commonly visited by the elite.  Some fine dining restaurants may also be found within this mall complex.

The Fort Strip - This is strip of bars that attracts expats and elites that is located within the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

Serendra - A strip joint of high end restaurants that offer fine dining and is located within Bonifacio Global City.

Copyright Notice: All content on this web-page is the property of and should not be used without the express written consent of  This review is written by avid traveller Mr.Paul Cayanes resident of Manila, Philippines.