National Gallery of Art
This proud museum, which reopened in 2008 after being closed for four years of renovations, contains many of the Philippines’ signature works of art, including Juan Luna’s stunning Spoliarium, which provides harsh commentary on Spanish rule. It’s in the old Congress building designed by Daniel Burnham, across the street from its sister National Museum of the Filipino People.
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When Miguel Lopez de Legazpi wrested control of Manila, he chose to erect his fortress on the remnants of the Islamic settlement by the mouth of the Pasig River. Intramuros, as Legazpi's walled city came to be called, was invaded by Chinese pirates, threatened by Dutch forces, and held by the British, Americans and Japanese at various times, yet it survived until the closing days of WWII, when it was finally destroyed by US bombing during the Battle of Manila.
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National Museum of the Filipino People
The National Museum of the Filipino People houses a vast
collection, including the skullcap of the Philippines' earliest known inhabitant,
Tabon Man (said by some to actually be a woman), who lived around 24,000 BC. A large
section of the museum is devoted to porcelain plates, coins, jewellery etc recovered
from the wreck of the San Diego, a Spanish
galleon that sank off the coast of Luzon in 1600. Other treasures include a large
collection of pre-Hispanic artefacts and musical instruments.
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The business centre of Manila has also become its nightlife
centre. The towers here house the nation's major corporations and most of the major
hotels. It all came about after WWII when the Ayala family seized upon the
destruction of the rest of the city as a chance to start building.
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