Southern Districts

To the south are the districts of Paco, Malate and Ermita. The little cemetery of Paco, enclosed within a circular wall covered with moss and ivy, is an oasis of silence and greenery in the midst of the bustling city centre. In Malate and Ermita are government offices while in Mabini Street and M.H. del Pilar Street are shops for tourists.

Here, as elsewhere, the old houses which have been destroyed have been replaced by low houses in no particular style built in cheap prefabricated materials. Here and there a few old colonial houses have survived light and elegant buildings of carved wood, well adapted to the hot climate with their openwork walls, their verandas and their covered external galleries.

The church of San Andres in Malate has preserved a beautiful Baroque facade.

These two districts extend to the south of Intramuros along the bay, approximately bounded by the seafront boulevard (Roxas Boulevard) and Taft Avenue.

Roxas Boulevard is named after the first President of the independent Philippines (1946-49), who died suddenly of a heart attack. Taft Avenue commemorates William Howard Taft, who was governor in (1901-1903) and the President of the United States (1909-13), the two avenues, crowded with traffic, run through a part of Manila much frequented by tourists, with airline offices, large hotels, shops, restaurants, night clubs, etc.

To the north, on the bay near the harbour, is the Manila Hotel, opened in 1912, in which General MacArthur stayed (visitors can see the rooms he occupied). Now enlarged and modernised, it still occupies the leading place in Manila. Farther south are the Bayview Plaza, the Silahis, the Sheraton, the Holiday Inn, the Manila Midtown Hotel, the Pan Pacific and the Peninsula of Manila. To the east, near Rizal Park, is the Hilton Hotel. Most of these luxury hotels were built on the occasion of the International Monetary Fund meeting in 1976.

At the south end of the tree-lined Roxas Boulevard (dual carriageway: formerly called Dewey Boulevard, after the American admiral who sank the Spanish fleet in 1898) is held the picturesque and colourful early morning fish market. Before the war the boulevard was lined with handsome mansions belonging to the aristocracy of the Philippines, but these were destroyed in 1945, and the wealthy residents moved to Makati. One or two of these mansions still survive, like the Rococo-style house at the corner of Padre Faura Street, now occupied by a bank. Much land has been reclaimed from the sea in recent years, both to the North and the South.