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20 April 2007

Travel to Manila, day 3:
Walking by the Baywalk

Calesa passing by Plaza Rajah Sulayman in front of Manila Baywalk
Calesa passing by Plaza Rajah Sulayman in front of Manila Baywalk.

THE DAY ended with a calesa ride along Roxas Boulevard and a midnight stroll down Manila Baywalk, the seaside promenade on the boulevard buzzing with nocturnal fun, frolic, and food.

Launched a few years ago, Manila Baywalk is an initiative by the Manila city government to capitalize on the scenic boulevard as a venue for social and cultural activities. The two-kilometer-long area used to be an unlit hangout of prostitutes, petty criminals, and brave young lovers kissing in the shadows and stench of Manila Bay. The hard-edged low life has given way to rock and pop bands, mime performers, caricaturists, cotton-candy sellers, flower stands, food stalls, open cafés and restaurants . . . and throngs of Manileños of all ages eager to see and be seen at night.

Mime performer at Manila Baywalk
Mime performer at Manila Baywalk.

One of numerous live bands performing every night
One of numerous live bands performing every night.

We sat down to listen to a band of four curvaceous Filipinas who greeted us in Hindi with an impressive “namaste”. They looked very pretty in their skimpy red skirts, and they harmonized very well on English pop songs I have not heard before. One singer seemed eternally confused with her dance steps, but it was delightful to see her confused on stage.

So many places to sitAs we continued our walk towards the hotel, I observed how the young and the old sat together, shared food, posed for pictures, sang along, laughed along—even at midnight! I realized how strong family ties continue to exist in this highly urbanized city. It was a refreshing thought. Manila Baywalk is proof of moral leadership in the Philippines; along with it are endless possibilities for meaningful community lives.

Frolic and friendship at the Baywalk
Frolic and friendship at the Baywalk.

The view of Baywalk from CCP Complex
The view of Manila Baywalk from CCP Complex.

Past Post: The Philippines Under the Bridge
Next Post: Down South

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