Manila, the capital of the Republic of the Philippines, is celebrating the 445th year of its cityhood. Early this year National Competitiveness Council (NCC) ranked the City of Manila 1st Place in Overall Competitiveness, 1st Place in Infrastructure, and 1st Place among all Highly Urbanized Cities in the country. The city surely has gone a long way—through ups and downs—from its beginnings as “a small tribal settlement ruled by Rajah Sulayman on the banks of the Pasig River near the mouth of Manila Bay,” according to Manila.PH.
Last May 9, incumbent Mayor Joseph Estrada received a fresh mandate from the city dwellers together with his running mate, first-time Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna.
In 1571, Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived at the mouth of the Pasig River and claimed the islands in the name of the King of Spain. He established the “distinguished and ever loyal city” of Manila, proclaiming it as the capital. Thus began more than 300 years of Spanish colonization of the Philippines, Manila.PH relates.
“The new city was enciBy the late 1800s, Spain lost control over the Philippines, with her major defeat by the American fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay.
From 1942-1945, the country was under Japanese occupation. “In July of 1946, the Commonwealth government under Manuel L. Quezon declared independence,” Manila.PH narrated.
The website added that “the post-war years saw reconstruction of Manila. Land was developed in areas now covered by the cities of Makati, Mandaluyong and San Juan. Subdivisions and residential villages flourished in Quezon City, Pasig, Pasay and Parañaque.”
Industries burgeoned in Calookan, Malabon and Valenzuela, Manila.PH further said. “Adjoining municipalities of Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Taguig, Pateros and Marikina were developed.”
And in 1976, a conglomeration of four cities - Manila, Pasay, Calookan and Quezon City - and 13 municipalities was officially designated as Metro Manila, the National Capital Region.
A visitor’s first experience of the city life are the parks, the churches and the historical sites. Rizal Park or Luneta is still popular among the middle classes and is often the place where students rehearse their dances, plays and choral recitations, martial arts trainees practice their skills, and aspiring bartenders juggle wooden bottles amidst families having picnics on the grass. Paco Park, like the Luneta, is known for its stage presentations. Manila Bay is famous for its sunset, and nearby Ermita and Malate abound in hotels, malls, restaurants, spas, antique shops and night clubs.
In the old days, shoppers flocked to Divisoria market for textiles, clothes and just about everything on their shopping list. It has since turned into a modern shopping district, with Tutuban Mall, an antique train station restored and turned into a shopping center, 168 Mall, 999 Mall, Lucky Chinatown, without losing its textile merchandise. Around Manila, other malls had made their mark, including SM Manila, SM San Lazaro, SM Sta Mesa, Lucky Chinatown, Robinsons Place Manila and other stores.
For history buffs, there is Intramuros, the Walled City, fronted by Fort Santiago, where national hero Jose Rizal spent his last hours.
There is the Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Republic. Nayong Filipino, which gathers replicas of the tourist spots of the country in one place, the City Hall itself, the Palacio Del Gobernador, Plaza Sampalucan and the list goes on.
For those interested in the Catholic faith, Manila has the Manila Cathedral, San Augustin Church, Santa Cruz church in the city’s downtown, Quiapo Church or the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Malate Church and Binondo Church.
Aside from Paco cemetery, the locals lay their dead to rest at the Manila North Cemetery, the Chinese Cemetery and the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.
For art and history enthusiasts, they will find much to love in the National Museum, the Archdiocesan Museum of Manila, the Central Bank Money Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with its Central Bank pre-colonial gold and pottery collection, and, for children, the Museo Pambata. The city is home to many famous schools and universities such as the De la Salle University, the University of Santo Tomas and the University of the Philippines in Manila.
Indeed, Manila is still a favored destination for migrants, businessmen, students, and tourists. The city’s leaders are working to uplift the standard of living of their constituents, and to make the city a mecca for investors. The Standard wishes the Manileños a Happy 445th anniversary!