Skip to main content

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
Knowriel.com 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.

Share your thoughts about this post. Visit 
Knowriel.com or inquire at norielpanganiban@gmail.com if you're looking for a change - personal, business, lifestyle, knowledge, etc.

Comments

Most-Read Posts of the Month

“I Love Baguio City” - My Travel Story in the Summer Capital of the Philippines

The Strawberry Farm, Burnham Park, Mines View Park, the Mansion, Wright Park, Lourdes Grotto, and Session Road; these are among of the popular landmarks in the more commonly known “Summer Capital of the Philippines” – Baguio City. Why so? Well, the temperature here seldom exceeds 26 degree centigrade. During the cold season of December to February, the temperature falls down to even below 10 degree centigrade. The record low temperature was 6.3 degree and that was on January 18, 1961.

How to Travel to Baguio City?
Going to this cold city in the mountainous province of Benguet, Philippines is a six to seven hours travel by passenger utility bus from Manila. Starting from EDSA, traversing the NLEX, entering SCTEX, exiting the province of Tarlac and going through the neighbouring provinces of Pangasinan and La Union, and then exploring the zigzag road of either the Marcos Highway, the Kennon Road or the Naguilian Road, the coldest place in the Philippines will be reached. Baguio is about 2…

"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It (Vulcanizing Shop, Sari-Sari Store, Bakery) – Part 1

I asked the shop owner about these old unused tires on what are they doing with it. The Vulcanizing shop owners says, “Oh, someone will pick up those tires and pay us 5 or 10 pesos each. Sometimes they just take it for free”.


Vulcanizing Shop - A Classic Example of Filipino Business
You’ve most probably seen and been into a local, typical vulcanizing shop like this one in the photo. The business concept is very simple. Here’s a customer with his flat or deflated tire and the vulcanizing boy will repair it using a rubber compound patch, a heating tool, and an air pump. If it’s a regular car or van tire, repairing one may only take 10 minutes the cost of which is around 30 to 60 pesos. If it’s a tire from a truck or bus, it could be around 30 minutes and the repair would cost the vehicle owner around 100 to 150 pesos.

Here’s the thing. A shop like this one could potentially earn a revenue of 1000 up to 2000 per day just by repairing a flat tire. Why? Well, with thousands of vehicles like j…

“Fixer” in Philippine Government Agencies Like the Social Security System (SSS) and Land Transportation Office (LTO) – What We Filipinos Can Do About it?

Maybe in this post, I can clearly explain how “fixing” works in many government offices in the country. The idea is first, to warn you that such illegal fixing happens, and second, to give you tips on how you should avoid them. Plain and simple, we will not in anyway damage or speak against anyone or any particular office of the government in this post. It just happened that this is about my experience with LTO and SSS Tagaytay. I want to emphasize that still many government employees in the Philippines are doing their jobs right - including those who are working in the said branches.
If you have experienced transacting with any government offices here in the Philippines, whether you're a Filipino or not, you should already be familiar with these signages.



Here’s a bit of knowledge for you to digest first.
What is “fixing” or who is a “fixer” by the way?
In the Philippines, these good words happened to have a negative connotation over the past decades. Good words? Yes, indeed. When …

The Divisoria Malls - Defining Shopping in the Philippines

They call it the 168 Mall. It is one of the busiest places in the Philippines during shopping days like Christmas season when longing for enjoyment and relaxation is on the air once again. From Cavite, my home place, going to Divisoria, it will take you about an hour travel under normal traffic flow.

What is in this place? Well, Divisoria is the Bargain Shopping Capital of the Philippines. This is where wholesale and retail prices make shoppers say “WOW!” on delight. Visiting this place will definitely give you a realization about shopping on a different dimension. Find out why on the next paragraphs.

On the Photo: The Popular 168 Mall in Divisoria, Manila, Philippines


Divisoria is located in Binondo, Manila. It is accessible via Quiapo(where the famous Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church is) thru Recto Avenue and via Lawton near Manila City Hall. Divisoria has been there since the early 90’s. As it is near the North Harbour, Manila’s main seaport, the freshest and cheapest products usuall…

“Pasalubong” – What Makes this Filipino Word Very Special?

Probably next to the beauty of a tourism spot, if it’s about the real reasons for traveling there, is our search for the best “pasalubong”. It’s the tagalog word for “gift” or “souvenir” and it can be anything from foods, toys, clothes, handicraft, furniture, soaps, wearables, or household items. It’s practically anything, big or small, cheap or expensive, edible or not. And for as long as that special item was bought somewhere else and then given to someone as an act of love and kindness – the true purpose has been served.


A simple gesture of “Salamat po” (Thank you) for sharing that pasalubong is enough to make you feel the love and kindness back. There is the best pasalubong for kids, for grandmas and grandpas, for a favorite grandson, for a close neighbor or friend, for the workmates, for the boss, for a former enemy, for a religious brother, and even for a complete stranger. Yes, indeed!

Well, “pasalubong” is actually different from a gift for birthday, wedding, or special gatherin…

Junk Collectors

Several months ago, when I was about to enter the public market near my place, I saw this old woman more or less in her early 60’s checking something on the garbage cans. That was really my first impression. I tried to observe what she’s doing for a few seconds more and I then realized she was after these empty and used plastic bottles. At first, I thought she was just looking for something she might have lost or maybe she’s looking for scrapped foods. But she’s not. The old lady looks clean and not like a scavenger. She’s just a typical person we’re seeing around. After a few moments, I approached the lady and told her,

“Nay, heto po ang konti (pera), pandagdag sa kita ninyo”.
(Auntie, here’s something (small amount), you can add to your income.)

And the old lady replied with a smile,

“Naku, salamat anak.”
(Oh, thank you son.)
Then, I proceeded with my market activity that day. From that time on, whenever I go to the market, I always hope that I will still see her, and give her a small am…

Who are These OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and Why are They the Modern Heroes of the Philippines

At the turn of the millennium, the Philippine government launches this campaign program calling the overseas Filipino workers or OFWs as “Mga Bagong Bayani ng Bayan” (Modern Heroes of the Nation). From then onwards, different organizations established programs giving awards and recognitions to selected OFWs who did a remarkable contribution or action to their family, friends, work or in general, to the country.


OFW ka ba?Bakit?Eh kasi dating mo pa lang, mayaman ka na. Boom! 
(Are you an OFW? Why? Because with just the way look, it seems that you’re rich. Boom!)

My Cousin Dado as an OFW in South Korea 

At present, OFWs around the world are estimated to be around 12 – 14 million. This is approximately 10 – 12 percent of the Philippines total population. These OFWs are distributed on many countries all over the globe majority of whom are in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore, Hongkong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Italy. Immigrant workers in the United States, Australia and Eu…

Filipinos! Here is My Free Education Advocacy that I Want You to Know

In the Philippines, we often hear this statement from the Filipinos about education:


“Hindi hadlang ang kahirapan para makatapos ng pag-aaral.” Poverty is not a hindrance to finish education.
I completely disagree! Allow me to explain my side.





Millions of Filipinos are unable to step highschool and even college because of the hardships in life we have in our country. Many are poor and therefore cannot afford the cost of education in the Philippines. If paying 5,000 to 20,000 pesos per semester in a Philippine college is already tough, then how about more the daily baon, school projects, transportation allowance, boarding house, and extra expenses?


Wake up! This is the truth. That Filipino statement with all respect, if I were you, forget it. Accept the fact that you cannot just earn your education in the Philippines because you are poor.

This is not an insult to anyone. I am from a poor family but I was able to complete a college degree despite of that. If you really want to find a solution…

How Filipinos are Loosing their True Identity

What happens to the Filipinos foods?

Haven’t you noticed, foreign foods are invading the Philippines by storm? International restaurants serving foreign cuisines are everywhere. Culinary arts, the way Filipinos look at it, is just becoming a trendy topic. Chefs, food blogger, culinary experts, food architect - goodness, are they soon to replace the simple “kusinero” and “kusinera” words that best describes our real identity as Filipinos in terms of cooking?




Globalization shapes the future of the country, particularly the food landscape. There is nothing wrong with innovation. I’d been a waiter for quite some time in a popular catering business and if its about food preparation, I’m really impressed with the way our cooks and kitchen staffs do it. Those garnishing, decorative artwork, and plating styles, they really add beauty to the foods we serve. Even an authentic Filipino food, they make a twist making it lovely and attractive to the hungry eyes.

Those terms like “buffet”, “a la ca…

Sidewalk Vendors

You’ll often see them. You’ll buy from them. But when they become part of the news, you’ll get to hate them – some of you. They are people like us who simply wants to earn a living. They have a family to feed. This is the business they call “marangal” (dignified). And we call them…
Sidewalk Vendors

Let me define what (or should I say “who”) a sidewalk vendor is.

Here in the Philippines, there is a notion that if you’re a sidewalk vendor, you mostly likely belong to the lower class of the society. For one reason, why sell on the sidewalks or streets of Metro Manila and other cities if you can sell on approved places particularly the market. For another, selling in the street on a daily basis is a risky activity – you’re prone to illnesses, effects of air pollution, dangers from vehicles passing by, and unsafe condition of your store or shop.

In a third-world country where job opportunities are scarce for people with lower educational attainment, there is no reason to doubt that poor people…