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General

The choice of entertainment in Manila displays the Filipino’s affinity for music. Top hotels offer everything from high-tech discos to lavish cultural songs and dances, as well as superb pop singers and performers, trios, show bands and classical string ensembles. On most evenings there are cultural performances by local artists or foreign groups at the many other venues for the performing arts. Free concerts are offered by several parks every week, and occasionally by banks and other corporations. The Philippines also have some unusual musical groups like the Pangkat Kawayan bamboo orchestra, which uses bamboo musical instruments, and the Rondalla group, which uses tiny guitars like the ukelele. Casinos are located in Cebu, Davao, Ilocos Norte, Iloilo, Manila, Pampanga and Zamboanga.

Places to Unwind in Manila

Performing Arts

Manila is distinguished by a strong theatrical tradition, possibly the most active and varied in East Asia after Tokyo. Because of the city's early westernisation, Manilans have been exposed to English plays, Italian opera, American musicals and other forms of theatre to a far greater degree than their regional neighbours.

Manila's cultural scene is mainly represented by venues like the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Meralco Theater, and William J. Shaw Theater. In addition, there are auditoriums in practically all of the city's schools and universities, and these are regularly used for a broad range of theatrical productions. Even shopping malls lend themselves to concerts and cultural shows.

Each of the city's diverse drama companies mounts a season every year, with Tanghalang Pilipino, the Cultural Center's resident company, setting the pace with productions that blend the best of traditional and avant-garde theatre. Repertory Philippines specializes in English-language productions and is devoted to fostering a love of the theatre among the younger generation.

Ballet Philippines, also attached to the Cultural Center, leads the world of dance, though there are several dance companies and studios scattered throughout the city. Classical music finds an eminent interpreter in the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, again complemented by different symphonic orchestras and chamber music ensembles. Both companies have regular seasons every year.

Three long-running series which bring the classical arts to mass audiences are worthy of mention here: Intramuros Evenings, Paco Park Presents and Concert at the Park. The first takes place at historic venues in Intramuros, the second in equally evocative Paco Park and the third at Rizal Park.

In addition to the aforementioned homegrown dramatic and musical groups, Manilans are also regularly treated to shows by visiting companies. Sometimes these imports showcase local talent, as in the case of Miss Saigon, the Asian Debut. Several foreign cultural organisations, such as the British Council, Goethe Institut, Alliance Francaise, Instituto Cervantes and the Japan Foundation are regular sources of art shows and other cultural activities.


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