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The Two Faces of the Philippines: Beauty of Architectural Wonders and Madness of Culture and Traditions

Philippines is a beautiful country. This is how the patriotic Filipinos are going to defend their homeland to whatever negative criticisms are they in the face of this planet. Lots of compelling and rich-content books, novels, blogs and documentaries have been written and released about this country.

However, it still becoming a mind-game for many Filipinos and even foreigners on why this is still a poor country. You might probably have your own explanation about this sad truth and so are the many eyes enjoying the architectural wonders that are everywhere in this Pearl of the Orient Seas. Might be you first time to see these wonders or they could have been something that you are just ignoring due to your very busy days at work. Let's visit some of them on this article.

Pasay Rotonda in EDSA
There are foot bridges in this part of EDSA where the MRT and LRT stations are linking together. Buses, jeepneys, motorcycles and taxis are passing by on this very busy highway everyday. The train is transporting commuters in the circumferential route of Baclaran to North EDSA to Monumento and then going back to Pasy Rotonda. This is the life in the city and for typical Filipinos, city life (and especially the Jeepneys at Manila and Everywhere) is a magnificent wonder to see everyday.

Underground River in Puerto Princesa Palawan
A very valid proof of the Philippines' beauty is the Puerto Princesa Underground River. At 8.2km, this is considered as the longest navigable underground river in the world today. This is one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World" and this is in the Philippine territory. There might be no man-made architectural wonder here but being rewarded by the mother nature with this true wonder is something Filipinos and foreigners should be really proud of. Palawan is now becoming a hot tourist spot in the country. (Photo courtesy of Rosales Roberto Jr.)

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)
This is usually the face of the Philippines on both international and local news. Tourism in the Philippines starts and ends here. Airplanes flying back and forth into this airport is a superb wonder in the air. Today, the NAIA Terminal 3 is operating on its 100% capacity. Domestic and international flights are being lodged in this very modern airport everyday. A few meters before the terminal is an architectural wonder that is very eye-catching.

Fernbrook Gardens in New Alabang
This is the modern venue for weddings and special occasions. This place is only a few minutes away from the heart of Alabang. A very modern garden concept that was built to invite couples, families, companies and middle-class people for them to spend their most-awaited events in the theme of nature. From the outside, while driving along Daang Hari road, you can witness a transparent dome resembling a church or palace-like-architecture in the middle of a field. This place is beautiful and it is indeed in the Philippines.

Penafrancia Basilica in Naga City
In front of the Penafrancia Basilica is a UFO-like architectural monument. A view from the inside are muti-colored glass artworks portraying the traditions of the Bicolanos and their strong religious faith. At the heart of Naga City are the famous plaza monument and church. These are the symbolic wonders of Philippines in terms of culture and traditions.

Camsur Water Sports Complex
Very famous for wakeboarding and other water activities is a place popularly advertised as Camsur. This is located in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Philippines and it's only a few minutes drive from Pili Airport. This is a man-made beauty and the measure of success is literally visible from there. It made Naga famous in terms of tourism. About one kilometer before Camsur is semi-botanical garden that is so green and the stone walls are built to last. Naga City has now its big dome. Naga City is a place to visit in the Philippines and it is truly a symbol of success for Filipinos.

Kamay ni Hesus in Lucban, Quezon Province
This is the Philippines version of Jesus Christ statue which is also very famous in Sao, Paolo, Brazil. This is the pilgrimage destination point of many Filipino Catholics. This is where they pray and at the same time feel the true beauty of nature. A Noah's Ark replica can also be seen at the foot of this mountain park. From the mountain top, you can see the giant statue up close and personal. The beautiful province of Quezon is also a perfect subject to be captured by your camera. This might be not yet known to many foreigners and even Filipinos but going here is really something to be truly remembered about.

SM Mall of Asia

The Manila Bay, the Manila North Harbor and the giant globe structure; they are all here in SM Mall of Asia or MOA. Built in 2002 and was opened to the public in December of 2005, this huge structure is impressive. Who would think that Filipinos are poor upon seeing a magnificent structure like this built in the country? Henry Sy brought it to the Philippines and shopping is now as simple as picking an apple on the tree when you're hungry. Filipinos love SM. Shop at MOA and you'll enjoy about having been in the country where products are affordable and many.

Roman Catholic Churches
They are everywhere and the Spanish introduced this architectural design in the Philippines. This is the symbol of Filipinos' strong faith in Jesus Christ. The design is too old, more than 500 years into existence, yet they are still here. Barangays, towns, cities and private villages in the Philippines have churches of this design. There is truly a beauty within these churches not talking about its influence to the life of the Filipinos and economy of the Philippine in general.

High Rise Buildings and Modern SM Malls
If this is about marketing, then SM got it all for you. Look inside and outside SM, the beauty is there and you can be attracted to shop and spend. There are many foreign investors in the country. Jobs, in a sense, are made available to many Filipinos. Filipinos are very well known to be happy people and these great structures could be another reason for them to smile. There are many reasons why; decent job is one and the impressive architecture is another. Go to Ortigas Center, Madrigal Business Park and Makati Business District. The architectural wonders on their extreme forms are there.

Basketball in the Big Dome
The now Smart-Araneta Center is the main venue of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) games. It can accommodate up to 15,000 people. Ginebra is most Filipinos number one team. This team is a legend and so is this big dome which is regarded as the first dome in Asia.

Taal Volcano in Tagaytay
This is Taal Volcano when it is covered with rain showers as seen from a distance. Tagaytay City is very famous not only for this tiny volcano in the middle of the lake but also with its cold climate far different from the rest of the provinces in the country. The cost of land here is expensive yet the tourist spots are many.

Manila City Hall
This is the capital city hall of the Philippines. You can see the Big Ben version of a big clock here. Manila has been there since the 13th century. Rizal Park, Manila Hotel and hundreds of schools, establishments and government agencies; they are all here. This structure is a symbol of Filipinos leadership.

Why Philippines is still a poor country despite of these many architectural wonders? There are informal settlers in many parts of Manila. They live along river banks, under the bridges, inside crowded compounds, near polluted dump sites, and on the street sides, literally. Visit the provinces and there are also many poor families out there. The nipa hut where provincianos typically live is still there and it is defining the real poverty. 

Take a look in these last two photos below. A bridge in Naga City is linking the city proper to the rest of the barangays and the next big towns and cities. There are still many places in the country without bridges like this. The other photo is a view from the upper highway bridge in Bacoor City before the Coastal Highway. A giant billboard, which contains the words "Perpetual Help", is beside the many houses of informal settlers. The before beautiful sea is now a reclamation area and it's polluted. At the far distance is the west Philippine sea. There is a church-like structure, with red roofs and it's beautiful, visible as well from the farthest distance. Through these images, can you figure out where the madness is?

About this Blog and Noriel Panganiban wants to bring change to this country. Undeniably, there are many beautiful places with architectural wonders in this country. Undeniably, many are still poor in this country and this sad situation has been a part of the Filipino culture for several hundred of years already. Beauty and madness are the true faces of the Philippines.

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