I had been a happy busy bee in my homeland.
There are plenty of errands waiting for me to do since I arrived in Manila and so far, I have accomplished all our tax obligations, shop for pasalubongs, met friends for long overdue coffee dates, rekindled ties with family and relatives, and rehabilitated our shih tzu who suffered from a bad case of skin irritation.
Despite the hectic schedule, I managed to roam around Manila and got surprised that with just a year of being away, Manila has many new exciting places to offer. This is such a pleasant welcome treat to Balikbayans and tourists who will spend the holidays in the Philippine capital.
Here are some of the newest and hottest travel spots around Manila:
1. SM AURA. It is a premier shopping mall in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City. It Owned by SM Prime Holdings, the largest mall developer in the country. It has a good variety of shops including Uniqlo, Forever21, Cotton On, Topshop, Kultura, Watsons, etc. It has an IMAX theater and a Catholic chapel named after the second Filipino saint – Pedro Calungsod. It also has a Sky Park in the roof deck with al-fresco restaurants.
2. UP TOWN CENTER. It is located just at the back of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. It boasts of the best food choices in such a small compound. Take your pick from J.Co Donuts, Dulcelin Gourmet, Ryu Ramen and Curry, Highlands Coffee, Ginza Bairin, Torch Restaurant, Liberty Steakhouse, IHOP and many more. It has a stage where live performances are held. Drop by and catch a free concert by the students of the UP College of Music.
3. THE MIND MUSEUM. This museum will not let down your child’s curious mind. It offers exhibits which are very interesting, interactive science shows and a lot of fun learning activities conducted by the museum’s resident scientists called the Mind Movers. Almost all the exhibits in the museum were originally designed by Filipino artists and fabricators who worked closely with scientists from the Philippines and abroad. The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays and closed on Mondays.
4. MALL OF ASIA ARENA. Adjacent to the biggest mall in the region, SM Mall of Asia, this huge indoor arena in Pasay City is the venue to word-class entertainment and sporting events. It has 20,000 full-house seating capacity and has ample parking spaces for its patrons. International artists such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez have performed on its stage and it recently hosted the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. Visit their website to find out the latest shows and events happening in the arena.
5. SOLAIRE RESORT & CASINO . This latest destination in Paranaque City provides casino lovers a wide array of table games and slot machines. The establishment also has signature restaurants, premium label shops, luxurious accommodations and nightly entertainments ranging from stand-up comedy shows, mini concerts and even boxing matches.
But if you are a first time traveler to Manila who wants to experience the local culture or a balikbayan who wants to take a refresher on Philippine history, I suggest that you book a three-hour walking tour to Intramuros (The Walled City) or simply stroll around Rizal Park a.k.a. Luneta Park. Try to eat our exotic street food, balut (boiled duck egg) or enjoy a cupful of our delicious taho (soya pudding with sweetened tapioca). End your day with an ice-cold San Miguel Beer while watching the beautiful sunset at Manila Bay.