Manila is the heartbeat of the Philippines. Multi-faceted, multi-layered, lusty and lively, it is the seat of government and center of arts and education. It is a city of contrasts and contradictions. Here streets pulsate with life at all hours; within its boundaries live the richest and poorest in the country. Occupied over decades by Spanish, Americans, British and Japanese, East meets West, giving the city a unique character. The Walled City, a medieval fortified town, was the heart and soul of the country for more than 300 years. This city fortress, surrounded by moats and turreted walls 30 feet thick, was known as Intramuros and comprises Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church - suggested priorities on any visitor’s itinerary. Manila attracts migrants who arrive from throughout to study or seek work. The cosmopolitan air in this fascinating city comes from its substantial Chinese and other foreign communities, busy port, multi-national corporations and constant flow of tourists. Other sights to see include Manila Cathedral, the Coconut Palace, and the National Museum.
On April 8, 1521 Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu and opened a trade route that is still followed today. The cross Magellan planted here still stands and has become one of Cebu's most recognized and famous landmarks. Colonized by Spain in the 16th century, many houses, churches and municipal buildings still stand from that era. Aside from historical landmarks, the area is home to beautiful beaches that are perfect for snorkeling, diving and windsurfing.