Manila is a bustling city that boasts an abundance of tourist attractions. There are several museums to check out if you want to learn more about the culture and history of the country.

Aside from exploring the city’s historical attractions, you can also try out some of the local cuisine. From halo-halo to balut, you can find these iconic Filipino dishes in every corner of the city.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is a historical site that lies in the heart of Manila. It is a fortress that was first built by Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.

It was later modified by the Spanish governor Gomez Perez Dasmarinas. It was a strong fortress that acted as a forward base for Spanish interests in the Philippines.

The fort was heavily fortified with thick stonewalls and a moat to protect the city from invaders. It also served as a storage for arms.

Today, it is a popular tourist destination. It is part of Intramuros, a walled city that traces its history from Malay to Spanish and American colonial times.

During World War II, it was used as a prison for the Japanese Imperial Army where prisoners died of suffocation and hunger. The dungeons and storage cells are now part of a historical park, preserving legacies from the Spanish Colonial era.

Visitors can explore a number of sites within the fort, including the Rizal Shrine where the footsteps of national hero Jose Rizal are preserved. There is also a museum that features memorabilia from Rizal’s life and death.

Manila Cathedral

The church is a beautiful landmark in the city of Manila. It is home to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, a Catholic sanctuary that is a deeply rooted part of the Filipinos’ spiritual lives.

The cathedral began as a church in 1571 but was raised to a cathedral by Bishop Domingo de Salazar in 1581. It was built using local materials – nipa, wood and bamboo.

It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1645 but was rebuilt soon after. This fourth version was a baroque structure that stood for over a century.

The cathedral was reconstructed and renovated several times over the years, but the most recent retrofit, which is currently ongoing under Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, has focused on structural improvement. Its new facilities include LED lighting, digital sound systems and a carbon-retrofitted structural foundation.

Black Nazarene Church

The Black Nazarene Church is a popular place to worship in Manila. The church has a famous icon, the image of Jesus Christ carved from dark wood in Mexico and brought to the Philippines in 1606.

According to local legend, the icon is a miracle figure that can heal terminal diseases, grant petitions and help people in need. It is a highly cherished icon that attracts homage by devotees and major processions throughout the year.

Every January, men with a devotion to the Black Nazarene take part in a massive procession called the “Traslacion” where they escort the image through Manila’s streets. The procession, which usually takes up to 22 hours, is one of the largest in the world, attracting more than a million devotees each year.

However, the Traslacion was canceled this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the image of the Nazareno is still revered and a huge crowd tries to touch it.

Food Market

One of the most rewarding ways to immerse yourself in a new culture is by wandering through its local street markets. Whether it’s Pak Khlong Market in Bangkok, Saturday Night Market in Chiang Mai or Dan Sinh Market in Saigon, these places are the ultimate hotspots for experiencing a culture firsthand.

The Philippines is known for a variety of food that can be found at different times of the day and all over the country. Some of these include:

Arroz Caldo – A rice porridge made with chicken and coconut milk, saffron or ginger garnished with spring onions (chives).

Goto – A popular soupy dish of pork and vegetables, often paired with a bowl of white rice.

Dinuguan – A stew of pork, meat or fish flavored with herbs, spices, and seasonings such as garlic, pepper and bay leaves.

In addition to this, Filipino cuisine features a number of counterpoints such as champorado – a chocolate rice porridge paired with tuyo (salted sun-dried fish) or daing (salted and dried milkfish).