No other city in the country could evoke as much emotion and longing such as Manila. Manila is part of songs, paintings, dances, and even in books, such as the one authored by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin. Joaquin wrote a monumental tribute to his beloved city through “Manila, My Manila,” putting in pages its rich history and vibrant culture.
Throughout history, Manila is a reflection of the mood of the nation. There were challenges in its storied history, starting from the time it was founded by the Spaniards on June 24, 1571. Modern Manila continued to be confronted with different obstacles, which were compounded with traffic, pollution, and lack of proper infrastructure. In fact, one prominent architect even said that Manila is a “city of contradictions and struggle, and of opportunity and rebirth. It is organic, a city in tension, a city aware of its value.”
Manila, in recent years, is embodying its value as seen in the revival in terms of tourism and culture – putting it once more on the map. If not for the health pandemic, the administration of Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso would’ve jumpstarted numerous activities that would show to the world a clean, green, and progressive Manila. For starters, much awaited by everyone is the soon-to-open Metropolitan Theater.
Thick in Manila’s air is the whiff of culture. Just across the Manila City Hall is the underpass, which has now been transformed into a proper walkway, with arts and photography dominating its walls. This was a far cry from years of neglect, when that walkway was filled with shops and wares. Manilenos have come to realize that a transformation is possible after all.
There are more reasons to visit Manila and celebrate its foundation day. Aside from Intramuros, Fort Santiago, or Rizal Park, there is the National Museum of Natural History at the old Tourism Building, the Escolta area, and the Binondo Chinatown, one of the world’s oldest. In terms of religious tourism or culinary adventures, Manila can offer a wide and diverse option. Just look at Malate, Quiapo or Divisoria.
Tonight, as Manila lights up its monuments, it is celebrating not only its foundation day but its survival as a city. Not even a global pandemic could bring it down on its knees as Manila has recently posted the highest number of vaccinations per day, and numbers keep on rising as vaccines continuously arrive in the country.
The future is bright for Manila, as bright as the lights of the fountain of a clean and presentable Katipunan Shrine beside the Manila City Hall. It should be, as everyone looks up to Manila to lead the way.