Despite its internationally recognized name of “Pearl of the Orient,” we think that the city of Manila is more like the sparkling centrepiece within the Oriental crown, indestructible against outside forces and still shining bright. No stranger to hardship and destruction, the capital city of the Philippines has endured natural and man-made disaster, one after another. However, the buzzing metropolis stands strong as a sprawling and diverse cityscape, an amalgamation of opulent wealth and grinding poverty. In the same place where skyscrapers seem to touch the sky, rolling shanty towns surround its feet. The tooting of horns and the snarl of traffic is a constant acoustic accompaniment that mixes with the hum of numerous Tagalog conversations. With several sightseeing landmarks that can be spotted from tourist buses, there is also plenty to see when exploring the streets on foot, from edgy galleries to speakeasy bars, or artisan markets to elegant cafes.