Sans rival (literally translated to ‘without rival’) is a Filipino dessert of intricately layered meringue, cashews and butter cream, and whenever I arrive in Manila I am reminded of it. The Philippine capital, like sans rival, is built layer over layer, each ingredient enriching the one before, each bite the perfect blend of crunchy and soft, salty and sweet.
The layers that make up Manila tell a complex story peopled by heroes and villains set against backdrops of wars and colonisation; it adds to these layers daily with a present that merges east with west and the endless bustle with afternoon siestas. It is a city that celebrates the new and makes new again from the ruins and triumphs of its past.
Close to Manila’s centre is the vibrant Bonifacio Global City, or the Fort. Built on the dust that once belonged to the Americans (who called the place Fort McKinley), which then became headquarters to the Philippine Army (who renamed it Fort Bonifacio), Bonifacio Global City turned an area synonymous with warfare and defence into a haven for urban families, foodies and culture seekers.
Set to open in the fourth quarter of 2015, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila, will add seven more bars and restaurants to the area along with 576 guest rooms and suites with near unparalleled city and bay views in what will be one of the tallest towers in the Philippines.
Closer to the airport (just three kilometres away from it) at the gateway of Entertainment City is Manila’s new crown jewel, the City of Dreams. For those whose idea of an urban paradise is dining, shopping, sophisticated nightlife and diverting entertainment for the whole family, the City of Dreams is justly named.
Located on a six hectare site, the integrated casino and resort complex brings together luxury accommodation brands Crown, Nobu and Hyatt with entertainment greats DreamWorks and the Pangaea Group. Pangaea, a luxury ultra-lounge, and Chaos, a unique nightclub offering, are both situated in the Fortune Egg – an architecturally-unique dome-like structure and iconic landmark in the Manila Bay area.
If the resort’s shopping isn’t enough to sate the urges of your credit card, you’re just a five minute drive away from more than 400,000 square metres of shopping at SM Mall of Asia – although you may need to add a bigger suitcase to your shopping list before heading home!
Before the dust settles around Manila’s latest additions, newer ones will be added, but the essentials of what makes Manila a truly great city will and have remained: a strong, happy spirit of a people proud to live in and share with others their home that is the Pearl of Asia.
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