Author’s Note: This article uses virtual reality technology to provide an immersive experience. Click the image to view the 360-degree VR. Adobe Flash 10 or higher is required. Average VR size is 1.7Mb.
The sun hasn’t risen yet and I’m already half-awake as the sound of oncoming trains rolled by outside my windows. Not exactly a wake-up call, but nevertheless they are a welcome sensation as I lay on my bed, pondering on the things that lie ahead. Such are the daily occurrence in my neighborhood north of downtown Manila, a place that’s near a wet market, at the intersection of two railways – the LRT and the PNR.
The Pasig River cuts across Manila separating the downtown area from the business and heart of the city. Ever since from the early days of tribal kings and during the Spanish period, the river has played an important role both in terms of commerce and livelihood. It was only after WWII, due to industrialization and migration from nearby provinces, that the river became polluted and murky. Current effort by both government and private sectors to revive the river has been a constant struggle to this day.
A visit to Manila will not be complete without taking a stroll of Intramuros, the Spanish walled city. This is the place where buildings of Spanish architecture are still being observed. Streets of cobbled-stones, horse-drawn carriages, and even the guardia civil were dressed reminiscent of the Spanish time.
Being a predominantly Catholic country, churches are everywhere. This is more evident in the capital than anywhere else. You will almost find a church within walking distance of your community, and they range from the minimalist to the most intricate of interiors.
With churches come religious festivals. You will nearly encounter them in some parts of the city every week. Most festivals are in honor of patron saints with major ones like the Feast of the Black Nazarene being held once a year.
Manila is famous for its sunsets. Along Roxas Boulevard, facing the bay, one can marvel at the iridescent colors as the sun slowly sets beyond the horizon. It’s showing everyday, weather permitting and free of charge, a natural splendor to cap the day.
But as the sun goes down, the city lights come alive; from street lamps, rushing cars, building windows, business establishments, and its multitudes of entertainment places. Clearly, from sun up to sun down, the city that I live in, the city that is closest to my heart, can be as vibrant and as enchanting as those of half a world away!
The 1st, 3rd, and last 2 VRs taken on March 17, 2010; the rest were from archive. The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org