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Manila: Little Known Facts

Updated on March 24, 2016

Manila Trivialities

This will be the third in this continuing ManiLA Series.


Most people are more familiar with Manila (the capital city) than the country itself, which is the Philippines.

Well hopefully they should be aware of one or the another, otherwise they might really need to brush up on their world geography. Or they aren't really made up to be Jeopardy or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Contestants are they?

The everyday Manila Envelope
The everyday Manila Envelope
Dramatic Sunset by the Manila Bay
Dramatic Sunset by the Manila Bay
Ali vs. Frazier, Thrilla in Manila (1975)
Ali vs. Frazier, Thrilla in Manila (1975)
Araneta Coliseum (The Big Dome)
Araneta Coliseum (The Big Dome)

But in a way it's rightly so, as there are very common and familiar things and events that are named after Manila.

A few of them I will enumerate below:

Who haven't heard of Manila Folder? (Or manilla folder, alternate spelling of long ago for manila). Yes those brown or yellow folders which were originally made from "abaca" or Manila hemp, so hence the name.

And if there are Manila Folders, there should be a Manila Envelope and Manila Paper. And yes all for the same reasons.

Also who haven't heard of Manila Bay or of its sights and sounds and beautiful sunsets?

And who haven't heard of the Thrilla In Manila?

Yes, it was the last and the most famous fight between legendary heavyweight boxing greats Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

Yes boxing fans from around the world know about Manila, even if some of them have absolutely no clue where it is or how to find it in the map or the globe.

But so that you would know, the Thrilla in Manila actually did not take place in the City of Manila but at Quezon City (another trivia), a city just next door to Manila. Quezon City used to be the Capital City of the Philippines.

The fight took place at the Araneta Coliseum which at the time was the largest covered coliseum in the world.

Today it is still the largest in their side of the world (Southeast Asia).

Carlos (Caloy) Loyzaga, the Big Difference. Mythical Five Member as he carried the Philippine Team bring home the Bronze Medal in the 1954 FIBA Championships.
Carlos (Caloy) Loyzaga, the Big Difference. Mythical Five Member as he carried the Philippine Team bring home the Bronze Medal in the 1954 FIBA Championships.
The Main Building of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) as it now stands in Espana Avenue, Manila
The Main Building of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) as it now stands in Espana Avenue, Manila

And aside from the Thrilla in Manila fight that was staged there in 1975, basketball enthusiasts will remember that this was also one of the venues for the 1978 FIBA World Championships, back in the good old days of International Philippine Mens Basketball.

Incidentally, the Philippines is still the only Asian nation to have won a medal in FIBA.

A mens team from the Philippines brought home won the bronze medal in the 1954 FIBA Championships in Brazil.

All these explains the seemingly illogical love of the Filipinos to a sport that nowadays they can't hardly top in Asia, although overall they still have the best record of any Asian Men's National Basketball Team in World Basketball Competitions. And they still the best in Southeast Asia.

Manila also boasts of the oldest (existing) university in that part of the world, the University of Santo Tomas which was established in 1611 and they will be celebrating 400 continuous years in 2011.

And being that old, it is older than any University in the United States.

It is older than Columbia University (1754), Princeton University (1746), Yale University (1701), and older than the oldest university in the U.S.A., Harvard University (1636).

Lastly, Manila also is home to a distinctively designed bridge which was (re)built about a 100 years ago by the same company and designer who built and designed the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. The people of Manila and its nearby cities have fond memories of this bridge, which was unfortunately or fortunately been built and rebuilt time and time again. People still remember the good old days when they would cross the bridge on foot, which until this time still have foot paths which is open to human traffic.

Puente de Convalecencia as it was in Old Manila
Puente de Convalecencia as it was in Old Manila

Now I will leave you with this one, which even me I have no idea was happening at the time.

Back in the 70s, when I was still a toddler, musicians from the Philippines have been producing beautiful music that has been known as Manila Sound.

I still have very fond memories of all those songs of the older generation, it was the time of discos, of John Travolta and bell bottom pants.

But what I didn't know was that Manila Sound was also popular in many other Southeast Asian nations and that they would dance to the music even when they hardly know what the lyrics meant. Yes, much like how the Japanese, other Asians and Europeans loved Freddie Aguilar's signature song Anak.

A Song Representative of Manila Sound (1970s)

And I would be remiss if I didn't share this one.

This is probably still the most successful song ever by a FIlipino Musician.

And this is "Anak" (Child) by Freddie Aguilar released in the late 70s. It's worldwide success spanned to more than 56 countries and more than 26 different languages.

And yes, inspite of it being no youtube yet back then.

Note: Freddie left his family and his schooling at the age of 18 (both unforgivable sins of any child towards their Filipino parents and Filipino culture which values family, religion and education). But realizing and more importantly regretting his mistakes a few years later, he composed this remorseful song expressing apology to his parents.

Freddie Aguilar with "Anak" Live


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  • J@ps profile image

    J@ps 5 years ago from Southern California

    You are welcome yougotme!

  • yougotme profile image

    Renz Kristofer Cheng 5 years ago from Manila

    Great trivia! I found these things fascinating. Thanks for sharing!