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Merriment in Metro Manila

Article by: Ysa Andre A. Mendoza and Frances Qarl M. Tolosa

Graphics by: Andreah Faye G. Lapinid and Albert Dylan D. David

Being able to wander in the sparkle of Christmas under the new normal does not mean an empty wallet. There are destinations that provide experiences that are just as magical without the costly travel expenses. For those who yearn to connect and embrace the essence of the Filipino holidays, here are some of the many locations that can satisfy the joys of the season without straying so far from the country’s capital.

National Museums of the Philippines

Location: Padre Burgos Ave, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila

Situated near one another, museum hopping has never been more accessible than with the three National Museums of the Philippines gracing the surroundings of Ermita – only needing a vaccination card and a valid ID to experience their wonders. The area is easy to navigate for commuters as it is near LRT stations and accessible through jeepneys and public utility vehicles (PUVs). Plus, there is no entrance fee to worry about.

A must-visit for art enjoyers, the four-story building of the National Museum of Fine Arts gives museumgoers a glimpse of the iconic artworks of the Philippines. It houses 29 galleries and hallway exhibits featuring pieces curated by renowned Filipino artists, alongside art from governmental institutions, organizations, and individuals.

Meanwhile, the National Museum of Anthropology tells the story of the country’s rich past. Formerly known as the Museum of the Filipino People, it is a permanent home to 10,000 items which include cultural artifacts ranging from weapons, textiles, and day-to-day objects from various cultures and points in Philippine history.

Lastly, the National Museum of Natural History showcases the Philippines’ diversity with 12 permanent galleries and botanical, zoological, and geological specimens that captivate distinct natural history.

One Bonifacio High Street

Location: Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig

Many connoisseurs of the city life have frequented the BGC in Taguig. The establishments in the area, known for being high-end, is a culmination of the urban lifestyle, complete from retail, dining, and entertainment centers. Apart from eating and shopping, one can also walk around BGC and enjoy its upscale aura and experience the urban ambiance mixed with greenery and art murals.

One of the various ways to get to BGC is through BGC Buses, which are found at the appropriate terminal near the MRT Ayala station. While designed to be a walkable area, BGC Buses, jeepneys, and PUVs are available for transportation within the area.

Venice Grand Canal Mall

Location: McKinley Hill Dr, Taguig

Mimicking the beautiful architecture of the city of Venice, McKinley Hill’s Venice Grand Canal Mall brings the Venetian experience to the Filipinos. Complete with gondola rides in its artificial canals and replicas of the tourist hotspots of its namesake, the mall takes the Filipinos on a trip to Italy. The high-end mall boasts an array of items, cuisine, and activities making it a one-stop shop for shopping, dining, and leisure.

Among the various ways to reach Venice Grand Canal Mall is via Guadalupe, which is accessible via MRT and buses. After, one would have to ride a jeepney to Market Market and walk for a few minutes to reach the mall.

Ayala Triangle Gardens

Location: Paseo De Roxas St. Cor. Makati Ave, Cor. Ayala Ave, Makati

Situated in the center of one of Makati’s busiest districts, the Ayala Triangle Gardens is a green haven featuring various species of trees, public art pieces, and several monuments dedicated to national heroes.

In the spirit of the holidays, the area conducts the nightly Festival of Lights, a 20-minute hourly light show that runs from 6 PM to 10 PM beginning November 10 until January 8 next year.

The location is a short walk away from the MRT Ayala station and can also be reached through buses and jeepneys that pass by the Ayala area.

Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park

Location: Coastal Rd., San Dionisio, Parañaque

For those wanting to take a break from the bustling city life, the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park (LPPWP) may just provide that much-needed short nature break. The LPPWP is a nature reserve situated near Manila Bay and is the first critical habitat in the country.

Occupying 175 hectares of various wetland ecosystems, it offers tours and seminars for a simultaneously educational and recreational experience. From late August to early April. visitors would have a chance to see various migratory bird species in the area.

While entrance is free, a visitor’s permit is required for entry due to the reserve’s status as a protected area. The park can be reached by going through CAVITEX then entering an access road on the right just before the toll gate plaza.

Star City

Location: Roxas Blvd., Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex, Pasay

Back on track to give thrills to both adults and children alike, Star City is the place of nostalgia and euphoria. Ranging from vanilla to extreme rides, the park opens at 3 PM from Mondays to Thursdays and 1 PM on Fridays to Sundays. To enter, goers would have to avail a Star Pass which costs Php 699.00 or Php 859.00; the latter being inclusive of the Snow World pass. The park offers various promos every month, especially for birthday celebrants. Announcements are posted on the official website of Star City.

The amusement park is situated at the CCP complex and is accessible via Roxas Boulevard in Pasay. Visitors may also reach the park via commute by getting off the LRT-1 Vito Cruz station followed by a brief trike ride or a short walk.

Mall of Asia Bay Area Amusement Park

Location: Seaside Boulevard, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay

A seaside boulevard with a number of rides for both families and thrill-seekers, SM By the Bay also has bike rentals, cafes, and a few other dining establishments. Visitors can watch the sun set over the waters of Manila Bay before the night hits, which is when the lights around the area shine. For the holidays, the bay has put up a Christmas tree to bring about yuletide flair to the area.

Single-ride tickets cost between PHP 50.00 and PHP 200.00 but most ride tickets are on the lower end of the range. Ride-All-You-Can passes are being sold online at greatly discounted prices.

Interested visitors can reach the park by getting off at the LRT-1 EDSA station and hopping on buses and jeepneys headed to Mall of Asia (MOA). Alternatively, shuttle buses to MOA can be found near the LRT-1 Gil Puyat station. From MOA, the Bay Area Amusement Park is just a short walk away.

With the holidays coming in and establishments reopening, people are looking for ways how to celebrate under the new normal. Not only is Metro Manila full of ways and opportunities to be festive but celebrating is also way to support local businesses and a step towards fully adjusting to the new way of living.

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