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The capital city of the Philippines is a densely-populated city located on the island of Luzon. Having withstood natural disasters and colonial rule, the city has earnt its title of the Pearl of the Orient and stands proud as the embodiment of the resolute determination of the Filipino people. The city is renowned for its rich history, having seen the Bruneian invasion, becoming the hub of Spanish colonial activity in the Far East and later being occupied by the United States following the Spanish-American War. The majority of the city was flattened by intense aerial bombardment by the US Air Force in World War II, meaning very little of the city's prewar and colonial architecture remains.
In the heart of Old Manila, you'll find Intramuros, a walled city from the colonial era that is home to the 16th-century San Agustin Church and Fort Santiago, a multi-level citadel that formerly served as a military prison. However, there's more to see beyond this walled city. Other notable attractions include Rizal Park, the National Museum of the Philippines, Ocean Park and Manila Cathedral.
The busy streets are lined with little cafes serving traditional Filipino cuisine, Spanish hot chocolate and buttery ensaymada, or savory brioche. To get a further taste of this incredibly diverse national cuisine, you may want to stop off at a restaurant such as Café Juanita to sample home-cooking style delicacies including adobo and pasta with aligue (crab fat). Consider timing your visit to coincide with some of the city's exciting events, such as the floral Bulaklakan Festival each New Year's Day, or the Feast of the Black Nazarene in January. In February, the Philippines celebrates Chinese New Year with processions, sumptuous feasts and traditional fireworks.
Attractions in the city range from colonial architecture and religious sites through to modern theme parks including Ocean Park and and Star City, offering the ideal mix of past and present.
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With dancing, festivities and great food, Manila's vibrant events calendar has plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in Filipino culture.
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