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The capital of the Philippines - its heart and soul is Manila. It sets the rhythm of life in this archipelago and is a pulsating hub that blends the Oriental with the Occidental, the quaint with the modern, the mundane with the extraordinary. Manila was born out of the ashes of a once flourishing Malay settlement by the banks of the Pasig River. In 1571, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established the Ever Loyal City of Manila which, until 1898, was the seat of Spanish colonial rule in Asia. He built the city within walls and called it Intramuros.
Endowed with a variety of picturesque landscapes, Davao's topography dazzles: Fruit plantations and orchid farms mantle volcano-fed hills and valleys. Virgin forests nurture rare wildlife. Coral islands lie on mirror flat water. And the country's highest peak magnificently lords over the hinterland.
Scenic Bohol casts an enigmatic charm drawn from the many archaic mementos spread throughout the oval-shaped island - from unique rock formations to a 45-million-year-old mammal species, from massive stone watchtowers built by the Spaniards in the 18th century. Surrounding the mainland are 73 other smaller offshore islands and islets whose palm-fringed coastlines are rimmed by white sand and sheltering coves. Serpentine coastal highways wind along unsullied beaches and rustic rivers where the tourist can stop at any point and jump in for a dip.
Cebu Cebuanos celebrate life like no other. They strum their guitars and sing the balitaw when they're happy. They strum the guitar and sing the harana when they're sad. And when they pray, they dance! It therefore comes as no surprise that the guitar is a prime product in Cebu which, quite naturally, has also produced a large share of the country's best musicians and master showmen. The Cebuano's flair for showmanship and love for celebrations is manifested in the Sinulog, a colorful festival of pageant proportion observed every third Sunday of January.
The palm-studded island of Boracay - with its white, talcum-fine beach, balmy weather and warm, crystalline waters - is like a hypnotic magnet that lures many to a lotus existence. In this tiny, butterfly-shaped island at the northwestern tip of Panay in Western Visayas, days can be spent by simply lazing on the beach and nights are for indulging in the tropical party lifestyle. Boracay is an anchor tourist destination and one of the 7,000 times more islands that make up the Philippine archipelago.