09/27/16

8 Essential Tips When Visiting Manila

From time to time, the Urban Roamer has been asked about traveling in Manila. Stuff like what to do or some helpful tips. While there has been some information shared about those things from time to time, I realized I never really talked about that matter a bit in depth. With the help of some friends, I hope this article would be of help for all travelers who want to check out what this city has to offer.

After all, Manila is more than just the Philippines’s bustling capital. As we have seen here in the Urban Roamer for years now, there is a cultural and historical hub that locals and tourists alike should check out. From being the seat of the Spanish crown in the East for more than 300 years to being a key city in the liberation of the country in World War II, a lot of its history still lingers in the air. I have to say, one cannot simply arrive in Manila and think that it will be a breeze to visit all its must-see sites.

What I’m saying is that there are a lot of things to consider when you are visiting Manila. Besides your planned destinations, you have to be wary of the weather and your surroundings. If it is your first time visiting Manila, or it has been a while since your last visit, then let these 8 tips help you prepare for your trip. Continue reading

09/23/16

Book Fair Roaming: Manila International Book Fair 2016

It’s that time of the year again! The Urban Roamer has once again made its way at the Manila International Book Fair. Would you believe this is already the 37th edition of this event?

As can be expected of such events, the venue (which again is the SMX Convention Center) is packed with a lot of visitors coming in to check out the titles being sold and the new titles being introduced. Unlike last year, there were no trends to watch out for in this year’s MIBF. At least that’s from this roamer’s perspective. Still there were many interesting things to see in the recent MIBF that still makes it a must-visit trade fair every year.

So what was to see in the recent Manila International Book Fair? Let’s take a look at some of the highlights after the break

Continue reading

09/19/16
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The Henry and The Conrad: Exploring Two Pasay Hotels

Pasay City today is one place in the metropolis which has a conflicted identity brought about by the many changes that came upon this part of the metropolis over the last 70 years or so. There is the Old Pasay, at least remains of the old genteel neighborhood where some of the Manila’s elite families lived, especially before the war and in the early postwar years. Then there is the Modern Pasay of today, suffering in urban squalor, decay, and congestion brought about by the emergence of the urban poor populace who lived in the city as the elites moved out to escape the creeping urbanization. And of course, there is the New Pasay, the hoped future of the city at least, concentrated in the reclaimed area of the city, where there is more room to plan the growth of this part of the city.

Such contrasts in identities can be exemplified in today’s entry as we roam and look into two hotels found in the city that reflect Pasay’s contrast in character. Incidentally, these two hotels in questions are named after first names of men, which makes this study of contrasts a bit more interesting: the Henry Hotel and the Conrad Hotel. Continue reading

09/12/16
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Bright Lights Dimming: The Nearing Demise(?) of Broadway Centrum

Given the state of how the Philippine television industry works, we do not really have much venues that broadcast TV programs which are located outside the studio complex of the broadcaster. Then again, such venues like New York City’s Ed Sullivan Theater where US late night program The Late Show (of both David Letterman and Stephen Colbert) are a rarity themselves. There is, however, one notable example broadcast venue located beyond the studio complex, of GMA Network in this case. Today, this urban roaming takes us to that Quezon City landmark known as Broadway Centrum.

Knowing its geography and history gives one the impression that its name connotes more than a single meaning. The first is its location at the corner of Aurora Boulevard and Doña Juana Rodriguez Avenue, also known as Broadway Avenue in Quezon City’s New Manila district. Then there is also the “showtime” and high energy live performances that the name “Broadway” evokes. While the QC Broadway was nowhere as fabulous as NYC’s Broadway, Broadway Centrum at least gave us some semblance of that vibe through the programs that were broadcasted in this venue over the years. Continue reading

09/5/16
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From Opening Flair To Uncertain Future: The Saga of Folk Arts Theater

 

It is interesting to write about the Folk Arts Theater at this time in the midst of the preparations for the country’s 3rd stint to host the Miss Universe pageant that will happen on January 2017. That is because the Folk Arts Theater itself came into being because of the Miss Universe pageant, when the Philippines hosted it for the first time in 1974. Reportedly, then First Lady Imelda Marcos pushed hard for the country to host the pageant, especially after the country’s Miss Universe candidate, Margarita Moran, won the title in 1973, becoming the second Filipina Miss Universe after Gloria Diaz.

With the hosting secured, Mrs. Marcos had the idea of holding the pageant not at an existing venue like the Araneta Coliseum, but at a new one. For this project, she turned to Architect Leandro Locsin, who by then was already the most sought-after architect and country and also in the First Lady’s good graces for his work on the Cultural Center of the Philippines Theater. However, there was a problem: Locsin only had a short time to complete that dream venue with the pageant just a few months away. Nevertheless, Locsin was one who rises to any challenge and this was no exception. Continue reading