National Geographic : 1977 Mar
Old Friend pulsively musical, quick to adopt the latest fad; nowadays the spicy beat of that Latin dance step blares from every record shop, beer house, and "disco pad," and the city noisy, flashy, redolent-vibrates in cadence. Jeepney buses, chrome-festooned extrava ganzas built around jeeps, speed through the streets with stereos blaring. Around the hotels, sidewalk entrepreneurs offer their wares or services-"Some fine opals, sir? You like to see Manila with a native, mum?" At night along narrow M. H. del Pilar Street, scores of cubbyhole bars with names like the China Coast and the Queen Bee promise sailors on liberty a variety of delights that are by no means forbidden. In Rizal Park bordering Manila Bay, couples walk hand in hand, and the bright dresses of the women are luminous in the tropical dusk. I have a special fondness for Manila, and I've visited it often over the years. I'd come back now, after a long absence during which both the city and the nation had undergone radical changes. A new rebellion had erupted in the southern Philippines, and another, in a new guise, was flaring in the north. The President had declared martial law and seized dictatorial powers. In the post-Viet Nam era, Carnival on wheels, a Manila jeepney (left) reflects the upbeat ambience of life in the Philippine capital-a vibrant metropolis despite the martial law that is throttling democracy in the nation today. Evolved from customized World War II jeeps, these minibuses provide hair-raising, though vital, public transportation (top).