Monday, July 8, 2013

Manila's Reclaimed Area and Mall of Asia, by Cecilia Brainard

My friends Guia Lim, Tillic Lorayes, and I visited the Mall of Asia, which is built on reclamation land in Manila, right off Manila Bay.  I'd been hearing about MOA (as Manilenos call it) and the surrounding developments so I was delighted to finally see it.  Click here for more information.

The Mall of Asia is huge and sprawling and fairly new.  We spent some time in the section selling Filipiniana where I bought Tabacalera Cigars and some clothes.  Afterwards, we had coffee in the new Casino, Solaire.  This place reminds me of Las Vegas, with its gambling machines and games going on.  It's not as noisy nor as dark as the Las Vegas casinos -- by this, I'm referring to the lighting in Las Vegas which tries to create a nighttime environment in their casinos. Solaire also lacked the frenetic energy Las Vegas has.

The reclamation area on which the Mall of Asia and Solaire was built on was non-existent when I attended school in Manila. In those days, the sea was closer to land. Roxas Boulevard ran along the length of the sea, and the strip of land on the seaside of Roxas was for promenading.  We lived in the Malate area, which wasn't far from the sea, and we used to take evening walks along the boulevard for fresh air and for ice cream (pinipig crunch), and sometimes, we rode the double-decker bus just for fun.

The nightclubs were along or near Roxas Boulevard, and the Luneta park was near by as well. A bit further away from where we lived was the Manila Hotel, the Intramuros and Fort Santiago. Places seemed more compact then, unlike the new Manila now which seems to sprawl outward forever.

It was Imelda Marcos who started the reclamation project of Manila Bay back in the 1970s, and reclaiming the land has continued up to recent years.  It remains a controversy even now; but it's a matter that seems to be moot because development marches right along on the reclaimed area.

I'd visited some reclaimed land where the Cultural Center Building is, but today was the first time I visited this huge portion of reclaimed land with the MOA and Solaire.

Did I like the space?
Well, the MOA and Solaire are certainly bombastic and modern.  In balance, if I were God and could get want I want, I would prefer the old Roxas Boulevard with the lovely bay curving gracefully like a hook. Manila sunsets are said to be one of the best in the world, and from the seawall of Roxas, one used to experience these breath-taking sunsets. I suppose now, you'll have to be in one of the fancy hotels sprouting up on the reclaimed land, to be able to enjoy Manila sunsets.

All for now from Manila,

Photos by Cecilia Brainard, except for the last one of me, which was taken by Melissa Ramos.(Thank you Melissa!)
Top photo - Manila skyline from Solair
Next - l-r: Cecilia Brainard, Tillic Lorayes, and Guia Lim
Next - The Catholic church near SM Department Store
Next two photos - pictures taken in Solaire

tags: travel, Philippines, Manila, Mall of Asia, Cecilia Brainard, Roxas Boulevard, Luneta, Solaire

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