This blog posts an entry a day – ideally. Each post contains a photograph and some notes, insights, random stuff whatever.
The Photographs: Subject is anything that is taken within Metro Manila, usually that of a place, a landmark, a structure or a scene that gives a glimpse of life in Metro Manila. It may be taken the day before, or a few months, even years, ago. It may be like art photography, like postcards, like documents, like mere snapshots. The subject (anything Metro Manila) takes precedence over anything else in considering what to post.
The Photographer: wordpress username battlesmith. In real life, his name is Anthony V. Corpuz. He likes to walk and take photographs. More importantly, he loves his city (or cities) and other places. He isn’t professionally-trained but that doesn’t stop him from showing around his photos. Never thought about teaching himself as well. Pure amateur boy equipped with his amateur camera(s) [Update: I’ve a Sony Alpha now yay!].
He has been doing this for quite a while actually, 2002 to be exact, so there is a pool of Metro Manila photographs that may last years even without additional photoshoots. But he is aiming for some order here, and would attempt to keep all photographs of the same format (which means not many of the old photographs will be in the mix). Besides, when one is young and starting, except when he’s a genius, there will inevitably be tons of ‘unacceptable’ photography going on in his early portfolio. this site’s photographer had horrific early years too – and many off-days still.
Metro Manila: Manila alone is composed of 14 or so districts, much of them distinct from each other, this mere fact suggests an exciting mix of chaotic, magnificent, brutal, fug, classic, majestic, cute and plain. Metro Manila though, is a hugh Metropolis containing Old Manila, its adjacent cities, suburbs and even then-rural areas is a collection of 16 very different cities. The City of Manila alone (without its Metro area) is recognized as the capital of the Philippines.
As an ever growing metropolitan area, the term Greater Metro Manila refers to Manila, the other cities that comprise the National Capital Region, and nearby suburbs and urbanized areas from the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite. As a term that is not official, Manilans and everyone else argue over which places from the aforementioned provinces are part of Greater Metro Manila or Mega Manila.
The northernmost possible point of Mega Manila is San Fernando City in Pampanga, although as the fastest growing city in Central Luzon it could be argued that San Fernando has its own metro area. West of Manila is Manila Bay so there’s no problem defining the western bounds. To the east and south, it’s anybody’s guess, though I believe the southern boundary is on the last industrial city in Laguna which is…I don’t really know.
Districts of Manila:
1. Intramuros – South of Pasig River, the old and walled district that was THE Manila during the Spanish period. As the most ravaged part of the city during the Battle of Manila in World War II, most of the walls, as well as the buildings were restorations including the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral.
2. Ermita – South of Intramuros, it is the home of Rizal Park (Luneta), the US Embassy, World Health Organization headquarters, Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines-Manila campus and many other important buildings and institutions. Though it used to be the city’s red light district, Ermita, along with Malate, serves as the center of backpack tourism and bohemian night life. Antique shops and art galleries also dot several of its streets.
3. Malate – the southernmost district east of Manila Bay, Malate is a vibrant place for nightlife on its boundary with Ermita. Its southern half bordering the cities of Pasay and Makati is like a small university town with De La Salle University, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and St. Scholastica’s College, coffee shops, Internet cafes, food courts and many post-millennium residential condominiums often rented out to college students. By the bay area the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP, Central Bank), which houses the Metropolitan Museum and Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
4. Paco – traditionally the Japanese Quarter, Paco today is mostly a residential area. Its most prominent landmarks are the San Fernando de Dilao Catholic Church, Paco Park and a train station.
5. Santa Ana – Mostly known for its hippodrome, which is now converted into commercial space, Santa Ana is a rundown area that is undergoing revitalization. According to legend the place used to be the seat of a kingdom that rivals only the kingdoms of Manila (south of Pasig, present-day Intramuros) and Tondo (north of the river, present-day Port Area, Santa Cruz, Binondo and Tondo). I’m not sure how true this is so if you have additional info, please inform me.
6. San Miguel – The district is home to Malacanan Palace, official residence of the President of the Republic of the Philippines.
7. Quiapo – The heart of Manila is where Quiapo Cathedral is located. It is perhaps the most colorful, chaotic, misunderstood and beloved district in Manila.
8. Santa Cruz – The chosen seat of power in the brief British Occupation of the Philippines, Santa Cruz was traditionally the gateway to Manila’s Chinatown. As the premier business district during and immediately after American rule, the area is host to many beautiful but decaying art deco buildings. Synonymous to Santa Cruz is Avenida Rizal, the once-elegant avenue of beautiful shop houses and grand cinemas now living under the shadow of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) whose northern half lies directly above the avenue.
9. Binondo – Claimed to be the world’s oldest Chinatown, Binondo is a mecca for foodies who will enjoy authentic Chinese and original Chinese-Filipino fusion cuisine. Experiencing urban renewal since the late 2000’s, Binondo has seen many new commercial and residential properties go up lately.
10. Tondo – The largest district in Manila, Tondo has the reputation of being the poorest too. Mostly residential in nature, many of its dwellers belong to the urban poor but it’s actually also home to many of Manila’s middle class. What is true, however, is the rampant petty crimes that occur on its fringes.
12. San Nicolas – Of all the districts this is the one I am most unfamiliar with and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.
13. Sampaloc – Sampaloc is the home of University of Santo Tomas – the Royal, Pontifical, Catholic University of the Philippines. While it’s also possibly Asia Pacific’s oldest existing university, the campus was originally located in Intramuros. The district is also home to the city’s largest flower market and bus terminals for rides to Northern Luzon.
14. Port Area
The Cities (and the lone municipality)
Metro Manila, also called National Capital Region, is a collection of cities that are independently governed by their respective local governments. Because of this economic development, zoning and order (if there’s one), among many other things, is uneven.
Although it makes sense to make living for people who reside in the region more seamless, the only form of administration that governs all the cities is the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), whose main responsibilities are traffic and waste management, and the annual film festival of sure-blockbuster but mostly subpar films.
Not to belittle MMDA but occasionally it comes out with good ideas, but they are always met with resistance and even hostility from at least one local government. For that reason, it kinda sucks to not have anything much done.
These past four years I worked in Pasig, live in Makati and attend graduate school in Manila. It’s such a hassle and it would have been nicer if Metro Manila isn’t the chaotic piece of urbanity that it is. But sometimes you just have to look at it from a different perspective, like how other people don’t get to experience such an adventure as often as I do.
3. Quezon City
8. Las Pinas
14. San Juan