I recently traveled to the Philippines to visit my family for a couple weeks. While it was nowhere near enough time to reconnect with relatives I rarely have the opportunity to see, it was enjoyable nonetheless. Most of our time was spent shopping at SM and eating Filipino comfort food, but we went on some memorable excursions as well. Here are some highlights from my trip:
San Agustin Church was founded in 1571, the same year the city of Manila was founded. Located in the walled city of Intramuros, the church is rich in history. Indicators of the Baroque era are present in every aspect of the architecture and beautiful religious artwork line the halls. In 1993, UNESCO declared San Agustin Church as a World Heritage Site.
Manila Cathedral was also founded in 1571, and it reopened last year after two years of renovations. A noteworthy feature of this church is a replica of La Pieta, made from the mold of Michelangelo’s original sculpture of Jesus and Mary found in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Pope Francis celebrated mass at the Manila Cathedral on January 6, 2015 as part of his papal visit to the Philippines.
100 Revolving Restaurant
My aunt treated us out to lunch at 100 Revolving Restaurant in Eastwood. On the 33rd floor, it offers a fantastic view of Metro Manila. The restaurant is spacious, but only the outer rim by the window actually revolves. (The center of the restaurant stands still, providing an option for anyone susceptible to motion sickness.) I ordered the Grilled Chilean Sea Bass, which had a silky texture and
rich flavor. As a big Filipino family, we all swapped plates and shared food. Other entrees I tried were the Seafood Gambas and Grilled Salmon, both of which were delicious as well. While my family ordered mainly seafood, the menu is very diverse. From chicken and burgers to sushi and ramen, 100 Revolving Restaurant has an entree to please everyone in addition to a view unmatched by any restaurant in Metro Manila.
One of my favorite things about the Philippines is the access to fresh tropical fruits at an inexpensive price. This market in Tagaytay has a wide selection, from the typical bananas and pineapples to the more exotic guyabanos and mangosteens. Though the merchandise is already set at relatively cheap prices, the vendors are open to negotiating with customers to give them the best bang for their buck (or in this case, peso).
In addition to fruits, the market also sells plants to customers who wish to grow their own tropical fruits. Other vendors walk around carrying bags of traditional Filipino pastillas and even pots of taho to sell to people as they drive by. The Mahogany Market has a wide variety or fruits and veggies, but if those don’t appeal to your taste palette, there is also a meat market nearby to satisfy your carnivorous cravings.
Art in Island
Art in Island is an interactive art gallery filled from floor to ceiling with optical illusions. Unlike in any other art gallery, you’re encouraged to take pictures and touch the art. The gallery includes modern twists on classic paintings and hyperrealistic scenes so meticulously crafted to make visitors feel as if they are part of the art.
The concepts of the paintings are often open-ended, allowing you to be as creative as you please; the possibilities are endless. Art in Island is truly a fun experience, sure to bring out the child in visitors of any age.