Among the most famous bays in the world, Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour is an example of how a bustling, ultramodern city can successfully thrive around a natural body of water.
Ha Long Bay in north Vietnam is also considered one of the best bays in the world, its 120-kilometer coastline picturesque with “thousands of islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars,” goes one description.
What’s striking about these aforementioned bays is that they are utilized to the full – in Hong Kong, the harbor is a major tourist destination and trading port for thousands of international vessels, while Ha Long Bay remains a main source of livelihood for Vietnamese fishermen.
Our Manila Bay, while famous for its spectacular sunsets, is also a very busy port, especially in Manila’s North and South Harbors. Real estate developments have sprung up around it resulting from population boom, and reclamation projects continue to be considered for the same reasons.
Not many know that Manila Bay covers a much wider area than the Roxas Boulevard section in the capital city. It is situated in the western part of Luzon and is bounded by Cavite and Metro Manila on the east, Bulacan and Pampanga on the north, and Bataan on the west and northwest.
That mangroves and ponds used to occupy more areas of the vast harbor is also not common knowledge. Over some neglectful decades, development and pollution practically destroyed all these. Perhaps the current government’s timely actions toward its rehabilitation will stave further destruction and save the bay’s future.
While there are countless bays in the world that draw tourists like bees, our own Manila Bay holds a unique appeal.
Residents in and around the city may no longer “see” its striking beauty as they traverse Roxas Boulevard on a regular basis, but new visitors are usually awed by the bright, golden cast of the Manila sunset. They also enjoy the recreation offered by many establishments around the area, such as the Mall of Asia complex, where shopping, dining and entertainment may be had just short walks apart from each other, as well as the casino complexes and hotels by the bay.
One Tripadvisor reviewer, on the topic “Ways to experience Manila Bay,” commented:
“Glorious sunsets to behold along the bay. The downside is the pollution, but thankfully this is being tackled now. I attended the inaugural clean-up drive which included the removal of silt. Interesting things along the bay include a visit to the Mall of Asia and the many restaurants, fun fair and live acts opposite the mall on the bay side.”
The view of Manila Bay is, in fact, a premium for hotels in the area, where rooftop or seaside deck bars are also often featured.
As the sun slowly sinks in the horizon, the calm waters start to glimmer in the distance. It is a slow, peaceful setting that seems to reflect a very Filipino vibe.
As the sun slowly sinks in the horizon, the calm waters start to glimmer in the distance. It is a slow, peaceful setting that seems to reflect a very Filipino vibe. It is like summer come alive even as the roads teem with vehicles and the sun beats down on our brow.
Along the bay, the popular seaside promenade that used to be called Baywalk after then Mayor Lito Atienza moved to revitalize the city’s public spaces remains a favorite hangout for couples, families, friends and the usual joggers and bikers.
When sunset comes, they stop to stare out into the waters, perhaps contemplating their life at the moment or quietly sending up a prayer of gratitude for another day gone by.
May there come a time when those who now pass by without a second glance – except maybe when a certain smell reaches their noses – will once again appreciate the full beauty of the Manila Bay.