PRETTY PLAZA. PRETTY GOOD.
Just when it seemed I lost all heart about losing acres of Philippine heritage districts to neglectful government/private sector attitudes, I was pleased as punch to bump into the area featured above. Located at the Maestranza in Intramuros, this former riverside squatter colony has been cleared of all it's unsightly elements and spruced up for public consumption. It's amazing how a little paving brick and flowering trees can alter a district's character. And the result is not only cosmetic. Positive effects can be felt in different parts of the walled city as well. All the unsavory characters, vagrants and beggar children who once lived in the colony and earned their keep by lurking in front of the Manila Cathedral are now gone and - from what I heard - given alternate housing in Bulacan. And although the walled city of Intramuros still lacks a cohesive vision for it's progressive development, this small but effective effort is definitely a step in the right direction.
The Maestranza Plaza is located beside the old Customs building next to Plaza Mexico, the Department of Tourism, and Starbucks.