The view from my first hotel room window, up on the 26th floor. Below is construction of a new luxury tower; the green space is a huge cemetery.
Armed guard at the local Starbucks. Their main purpose seems to be opening doors for customers and guiding cars into tight parking spaces.
The double-wall entrance to The Fort, a prominent feature on the Manila waterfront. It was built in the mid-1500s by the Spaniards. The brass footsteps belong to Jose Rizall, the opthomologist who led the fight (with words) for the independence of the Filipino people from the Spaniards. He was imprisoned here for treason, and then killed by firing squad in 1896. The footsteps trace his path from prison cell to killing field.
Jose Rizall. The Philippines were named after King Philip II of Spain; the country gained independence from Spain on July 4, 1946. While students can learn Spanish in school, most prefer English. The American presence here during and following WWII had a greater influence than the 400 years of Spanish rule.
The courtyard of an old Spanish villa. (No photos allowed inside, unfortunately.) Inside, it is very richly decorated with dark wood. I like the way they washed dishes: outside the kitchen window, so that the water would water the herb garden below.
A hotel in Manila Bay, a huge protected harbour that opens to the Pacific Ocean. In contrast to the hot and muggy city center, the ocean front is cool and breezy. Manila became a major port because it served both Asia and the USA. After the Suez Canal opened, Boston was one of the largest trading partners with Manila, curiously enough. The city served as General McAuthor's headquarters in WWII, and his suite at the Manila Hotel is still the most expensive in the city.
The National History Museum has remarkable artifacts from the time before the Spaniards arrived. Here is a reconstruction of an underground burial site, where the clay coffins are made in the shape of body inside, albeit stylized.
...and then in contrast to burial caves, we have downtown Manila. Jollibee is the Philippine's own fast food chain.
Manila has no transit buses; instead, these Jeep-neys carry commuters along specific routes. The hood is styled after the Jeep, while the frame, engine, and transmission come from old Japanese trucks. Passengers enter through the open door in the back, and then pass the fare along to other passengers, who hand it to the driver. I particularly like the ones with the Jeep hood, Rolls-Royce grill, and huge Mercedes-Benz logo.
Traffic is nuts, but it works, as every one looks for an edge over the next car, yet gives way gracefully. Pedestrians wind their way around cars in streams, and it is not unusual for a pedestrian to "take on" a car by not getting out of the way. Nobody drives fast, and nobody slams on the brakes, so there are no accidents. Traffic is as busy at 8PM as it is at 8AM.
Giant ads promise security and luxury for those living in the giant concrete-and-glass high rises. Housing is cheap in Manila. I would rate my hotel room as 3-star, and it is just $65 a day, including breakfast and Internet, just off the downtown of "Makati Village," the central business district of Manila. Office workers can rent a "bed" in town to avoid commuting 1-2 hours each way, each day. The "bed" is like a college dorm situation: a bunkbed in each bedroom, and four bedrooms share a common kitchen, for $50 a month.