Just beside Intramuros is Rizal Park, a 60-hectare conglomerate of...Read more
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Pablo Angcaya, a 66-year-old farmer who in the past four decades has been taking care of a three-hectare plot planted to coffee, is excited to hear that prices of the world's second-most traded commodity continues to go up since hitting bottom at P27 a kilo in the middle of 2002.
As of the third week of January this year, prices of coffee reportedly reached P40 a kilo, providing relief to thousands of coffee farmers in this idyllic Cavite municipality, which prides itself as the "coffee town of the Philippines."
As a shopping haven, Metro Manila offers almost all kinds of products, from the most fashionable to the rarest items. And they can be found almost anywhere, in the most luxurious department stores as well as in small bargain shops. Depending on the traveler's budget, there is always a place where one can find the best buys. The giant shopping malls, SM, Robinson's, Glorietta, Shangri-la, and Rustan's, carry most of the well-known international labels. They also have stores, which sell the best of Filipino products.
The town of San Juan, just next to Manila, boasts of its large mansions and modern houses. It is home to some of the richest Filipinos, including the present president. Quezon City is the site of many government installations, leading universities, and television stations. Marikina City, on the other hand, is considered as the shoe capital of the Philippines. It takes pride in having maintained a clean river, planked by greens.
From the CCP complex, one can proceed to Nayong Pilipino. This 32-acre theme park is also just a 10-minute drive from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The park features scaled-down replicas of the country's top tourist destinations such as Mayon Volcano, the Banaue Rice Terraces and the Chocolate Hills.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex is the arts center of the country. Located along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City, this is the premier venue for ballet presentations, concerts, stage plays, performances, exhibits and trade fairs. Inaugurated in 1969, the CCP comprises a fine concert hall seating 2,000 plus an intimate 400-seat theater as well as a library, museum, art gallery, and an upscale restaurant. The lobby is opulent, with marble floors, curving staircases, and glass and kapis-shell chandeliers.
From Escolta, one can proceed to the San Miguel district, known for its Spanish-style houses and the Malacañang Palace, seat of the Philippine government. This ornate Spanish colonial palace, with its arches and balconies, was built as a private country house in the late 18th century and purchased by the government in 1825. At first the governor-general's summer residence, it became his permanent residence in 1863, after the Palacio Real in Intramuros was destroyed by an earthquake. In 1986, the palace museum was opened for the public. Visitors are advised to call first. The telephone number is 521-2307.
Across the Pasig River from Intramuros is the Binondo area, home of Chinatown. The district is filled with all things Chinese from Peking duck and Buddhist temples to gold watches, snake soup, and wonder herbs. The high chords of Chinese songs and the permeating smell of incense complete the uniquely Chinese ambiance. It is said that this quaint district was already a hub of Chinese commerce even before the Spaniards came in 1571.
Just beside Intramuros is Rizal Park, a 60-hectare conglomerate of gardens, historical markers, plazas, an artist's sanctuary, a 1913 bronze monument of Jose Rizal, a grand stadium, an observatory, an open-air concert hall, a light-and-sound theatre, restaurants, food kiosks and playgrounds, with dozens of fountains. Fronting the northwest side of the park is Manila Hotel, whose lobby is one of the most imposing in the world. Along the park's bayside, tourists can have an unobstructed view of the fabled Manila Bay sunset.
Traces of the Spanish influence still loom in Intramuros. A tour of this landmark will provide the visitors a deeper understanding of Manila's rich heritage. Intramuros protects within its walls a number of national treasures like the Fort Santiago (once a prison for revolutionary Filipinos, now a peaceful park-cum-museum), San Agustin Church (the oldest structure in the country with its Baroque interiors and trompe l'oeil murals), Manila Cathedral (a magnificent architectural feat with its intricate stone carvings, stained glass mosaics, and rosette windows), Casa Manila (a former colonial house and now a museum of national relics), and San Juan de Letran school.