Manila Tour: 5 LRT Sights You Shouldn't Miss

It's usually packed like a can of sardines, but the LRT1 (Light Rail Transit line 1) is the most efficient way to traverse old Manila. It connects Baclaran to Roosevelt in less than an hour, making it indispensable to the riding public. The fare is cheap - P12 to P20 - and the train cars are air conditioned. I should warn you though, don't expect a dry underarm when you ride it on a summer rush hour!

The first car is for PWD, elderly, women and passengers with small children

Students, yuppies and the rest of the masses rely on the LRT to reach their destination in photo-finish time. But aside from being part of the daily grind, this mode of transportation is also great for sightseeing!

The yellow stations are all with Manila's city limits

If you don't have time to do an all-out Manila tour, you can try my idea for Plan B: LRT Manila sightseeing tour. The LRT1 was built along old Manila's glorious structures. I've listed down 5 sights you definitely shouldn't miss. Here they are:

1. De La Salle University's St. La Salle Hall (Vito Cruz Station)

Photo from Wikipedia (it's a shame I don't have a photo of my Alma Mater)

Designed by the country's first registered architect, Tomas Mapua, the St. La Salle Hall is an iconic neoclassical structure in Vito Cruz (now Pablo Ocampo Sr.) Street. It houses the College of Business classrooms, the De La Salle Brothers residence (on the top floor) and the Chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The building is witness to one of the most gruesome massacres of WWII - which took place right inside its chapel. These days, it hosts some of the most important national qualifying exams such as the Bar Exam. Subsequent buildings erected in the university seem to have been patterned after this original one - whitewashed with tall pillars and arches - giving the DLSU campus a uniform look.

2. Philippine National Museum (between United Nations Ave. and Central Station)

Formerly home to the Philippine Congress, the stately Philippine National Museum stands alone at the triangle island between Taft Avenue, Padre Burgos and Finance road. It was designed in 1918, originally to be a library, by Ralph Harrington Doane and Antonio Toledo according to Daniel Burnham's Plan of Manila. But original plans were modified when the Congress decided to use the building instead. Juan Marcos Arellano, the famous architect responsible for other visionary structures in Manila re-did the layout.

After WWII, the structure was severely damaged. Although it was not rebuilt down to detail, one can still sense the architectural genius behind it. Today, the building houses the National Art Gallery and other support divisions. It curates Juan Luna's award-winning painting, The Spoliarium.

*Here is a map of the LRT-1 stations (zoom out to see more):

View Larger Map

3. Manila City Hall (between United Nations Ave. and Central Station)

The city hall's South entrance (the foot of the coffin)

The seat of power of Manila is hard to miss, with its clock tower rising like a beacon. The SM Mall standing adjacent to it attempted to contest the height of this tower, but failed - retreating to a height that doesn't destroy the city skyline.

The highest clock tower in the country

The building, designed by Antonio Toledo, is enveloped with architectural controversies like not having enough entrances, and - more popularly - having the same shape as a coffin (check Google maps and see the aerial view for yourself). Despite its issues, the Manila City Hall serves its purpose well for Manila residents, owing to its strategic location.

4. Manila Metropolitan Theater (between Central and Carriedo Stations)

Art-deco inside and out

Just after Central Station emerges the Manila Metropolitan Theater, also known as MET. It's one of the few known art-deco structures still standing today (another example is the FEU building). Its pink ornate exterior and the the stained glass art above the entrance way is enough to give it a second look. The building was designed by Juan M. Arellano; the sculptural works were by Italian Francesco Riccardo Monti (facade) and Isabelo Tampingco (interiors).

The theater seems to fall in disrepair after each rehabilitation, the last one being in 2010. Right now it looks as if its non-operational again. I'm quite lucky to have seen this from the inside sometime during my childhood. I hope the city hands over the care and management of this structure to a more specialized group, say the NCCA.

5. Manila Central Post Office (between Central and Carriedo Stations)

Central Post Office by the river

Just before crossing the Pasig River, another eye-catching structure looms. The head office and main sorting facility of PhilPost is housed in this neoclassical building designed by Juan M. Arellano (yes, it's him again). Like other structures in Manila, this, too, fell into rubble during WWII. It was also not rebuilt down to detail, but most of its original design was preserved.

Right now, the Post Office building is facing a crisis as plans of converting it into a 5-star luxury hotel is in the talks. The post office is having difficulty in keeping up with the costs of maintaining the building, especially now that we use email more often.

There you have it! Riding the LRT is not just about boxing-out other passengers and getting a firm grip on the handle rails. It can double as a sightseeing opportunity for those who ride it for the first time, or on a daily basis.


  1. I have taken a ride on LRT and MRT just once. I'm tempted to do it after reading this. Is there a "dead hour" so I don't have to push my way through a thick crowd?

  2. @Lifeisacelebration

    Yeah, you should go and do a joy ride! Sundays should be pretty down in LRT. I can't guarantee a dead hour on weekdays.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...