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Destination: Intramuros   
Long before the Spaniards came to the country, communities were already thriving along the banks of Pasig River. And one of these was a palisaded fort then known as Maynilad, ruled by Rajah Soliman. The citadel was then the hub of trade center for Asian goods.
Recognizing the strategic location of the community, the Spaniards decided to settle here and founded the City of Manila in June 24, 1571. Manila then became the seat of Spanish sovereignty in the Orient for over 300 years. The bastion of Spain’s supremacy in the East. To protect it from threats of invasion, the Spanish Government ordered the construction of defenses consisting of high stone walls, bulwarks and moats, stretching to 4.5 kilometers in length and enclosing a pentagonal area of approximately 64 hectares. And this became known as Intramuros, meaning within the walls.
Today, Intramuros has outlived its use for defense. Housing strategic government offices such as the Department of Education, Culture and sports, the Department of Labor, Intramuros now also serves as one of the more important tourist attractions in the country, a monumental, if ruined, relic of the Spanish period in Philippine history. It is a city within a city, separated from the rest of Manila by its crumbling walls. This ancient capital had well-planned streets, plazas, the Governor’s Palace and churches. However, many buildings were reduced to shambles in World War II.
For a city that has been challenged endless times by natural calamities, the bombs and shocks of wars, an era of neglect and misuse...Intramuros has remained steadfast, resolute, enduring. If you look at the walls carefully, you’ll notice a few bearing numbers. These indicate which stones belong to the original structure.
Today, the walls stand proud as ever-revelling in its glory days. And bright with hope about its future ones.
There are dungeons and dens. Museums and music. Parks and plays. History and horticulture. Casas and cathedrals. Picnics and plazas. Golf and gastronomic delights. Treasures and tiendas. Art and antiques. Shopping and sightseeing. Ramparts and rendezvous. Intramurous is always throbbing with life which makes it an ideal place for people to work in and play in...or live in.
The place is filled with history and historical landmarks, tradition, culture, art spanning many influences and eras, architectural detail, religion, lifestyles — old and new, and leisure!
Among the places to visit in Intramuros are the Manila Cathedral, St. Augustine Church and Fort Santiago.
• The Manila Cathedral is the fifth stone church of Manila. It has been referred to as the    ‘never say die’ Cathedral. It has been destroyed by earthquakes three times, typhoon,    fire and war, yet remains an architectural highlight of Manila and the Catholicism that    dominates the Philippines. It was destroyed and rebuilt several times. From the air, it    appears as a giant cross.
• St. Augustine Church is the oldest stone church in the Philippines. It was built in 1599.    It is an immense structure of thick walls of Corinthian and Ionic designs. It was also    destroyed and rebuilt many times.
• Fort Santiago used to be the seat of the colonial powers of both Spain and the U.S. It    was also a dreaded prison under the Spanish regime and the scene of countless    military police atrocities during the Japanese occupation. Here, too, Dr. Jose Rizal    spent his last hours before his execution in Bagumbayan. (now Rizal Park).
• Outside the city walls you can play 18 holes of golf at the excellent Intramuros Golf    Course.
At Intramuros, you can’t just drop by. Stay a while.
Flying fiesta
So much for the bad image tag on the Philippines. Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon has launched a program he believes would surely entice foreign tourists to visit Pilipinas and defy negative US government travel advisory.
To be held in the sprawling 2,500 hectare Clark Filed in Pampanga from February 14-16 next year, the Philippines International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta & Air Show 2003 is among the special events Gordon has lined up for the Visit Philippines Year 2003 program.
“We are optimistic that the hot air balloon and air show will be one of the biggest and exciting air show event for the Centennial celebration of Clark Field and the special events for the month of February during the ‘VPY 2003’,” a beaming Gordon said.
“The VPY 2003 will be the time when the whole world’s attention will be focused on what our country has to offer as a unique and multifaceted business and travel destination.”
Through the collaboration of the Omni Aviation Corporation, Department of Tourism-Region 3 and the Clark Development Corporation, more than 50 hot air balloons, 100 pilots and flying enthusiasts from 50 countries are expected to be part of this air fiesta. They will compete in top events as the Key Grab Contest Balloons of the World, Balloon Evening Glow, Dawn Patrol Balloon Night Light, Hot Air Balloon Flag, Mass Ascensions, and Special Shapes.
World-class performers will include the Yakovlevs, the premier four aircraft aerobatics team from the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Army Golden Knights Demonstration Parachute Team. Capt. Maynard Halili in his Pitts Special bi-plane and Capt. Roy Bruce in his Extra 300L will undertake aerobatics demonstrations. Tropical Asia Parachute Club of Clark Field and the Blue Diamonds of the Philippine Air Force will also do their own air shows.
Skydiving, hang-gliding, kite flying, ultra-light plane flying, aero-modeling and other aerial shows are being organized for the three-day event. Ground activities will include a fireworks display, face painting, henna tattoos, Euro bungee, wall climbing, live bands and others.
Get ready for take off!
Dark justice
Nocturnal thieves, beware! If Dick Gordon would have his way, you won’t be able to see the light of day feasting on your loots. Literally.
In his effort to restore tourists confidence on the country’s ability to maintain peace and order, the tourism secretary batted for the return of the Night Courts to address crimes against tourists and provide immediate relief to foreigners while still in the country.
Gordon noted that criminal elements are not deterred into committing crimes because the victims are normally transients who fail to press charges, generally due to lack of time.
Gordon has sent Justice Secretary Hernani Perez a letter stating his reasons for the return of the Night Courts, saying that he would speak to President Arroyo about his recommendation, which needs the approval of the Supreme Court.
He also called on the cooperation of the Philippine National Police in maintaining peace and order around the tourist belt area and increase police visibility patrols in preparation for the VPY 2003.
Gordon also pledged 50 scooters to be used by policemen in patrolling key tourist destinations around the Metropolis.
Secretary Gordon said, “Tourism plays a major role in our economic development and it is the quickest way to prosperity. The police have to do their share to enhance tourist safety and security.”
To night criminals, watch out. Dark justice is going to get you.
Batchelor match of best hotel
Being one of the bests is no mean feat. Heading the bests is even tougher. But the best only deserves the best. So David Batchelor deserves The Peninsula Manila and vice versa.
The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited recently appointed Batchelor as general manager of The Pen. The post is fitting for the man, who has the credentials.
Batchelor earned his Economics degree from the University of Adelaide before taking up hotel management at the Asia Pacific basin Swiss Hotel Association International College of Hotel Management. He joined the flagship hotel in 1994 as financial controller. He also held various finance positions with The Regent Sydney and the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company in Australia and the Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in Taipei. His last stint prior to The Pen was with The Peninsula Hongkong, where he served as its resident manager for seven years.
With his rich experience, Batchelor finds his match in the Pen. The Peninsula Manila is the only hotel in the Manila to be included in the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List of the ‘World’s Best Places to Stay’ in 2001 and 2002. It has also been polled thrice by the readers of Business Traveller-Asia Pacific as the Top Hotel from 1998 to 2000. Recently, The Peninsula Manila was also voted by the readers of the Global Finance, a New York-based magazine that covers the global financial markets, as one of the best hotels in Asia Pacific region, the only hotel in the Philippines to make it to the list.
With Batchelor, The Pen is sure of soaring to greater heights.
SEX BOMB GIRLS. Fourteen boob-tube babes would like to help fight lawlessness and evil in our crime-infested communities. How are they going to do it if they have superpowers?

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