The “Magnificent Manila” is a campaign that the country’s capital hopes will bring more tourists to the city—those who actually stay for days and spend their hard-earned cash there instead of just dropping by or passing through.
Yul Servo Nieto, the city’s de facto “father,” looks forward to launching the program, as he said this will help bring more tourism-related livelihoods to Manileños.
Manila has long been a cultural and historical hub, with its rich heritage and vibrant arts scene. In recent years, the local government of Manila has implemented various initiatives to enhance tourism, preserve the city’s cultural treasures, and encourage visitors to explore and stay in Manila.
Manila has prioritized the promotion of eight tourism hubs, each with its own unique charm and attractions. These hubs include Tondo; Binondo, Escolta, and San Nicolas; Santa Cruz; Quiapo and San Miguel; Sampaloc and Sta. Mesa; Intramuros and Port Area; Ermita, Malate, and Paco; and Pandacan and Santa Ana.
By focusing on these hubs, the aim is to showcase the diverse cultural heritage, culinary delights, and historical significance that Manila has to offer.
Significant efforts to improve and restore many of the city’s landmarks have not only enhanced the aesthetics of the city but also preserved its historical value. Renovation initiatives have included the revitalization of historical sites such as Intramuros, which has been a significant tourist attraction for years. Additionally, the Manila Zoo has undergone extensive rehabilitation, providing a refreshed and more enjoyable experience for visitors.
Aside from being a dedicated public servant, Nieto also has a deep love for the arts, finding solace in nurturing his artistic talents and continually honing his craft.
Nieto infuses his leadership with a creative spirit that makes him a visionary force. Balancing his responsibilities to the city and artistic endeavors, he is also a devoted husband and caring father to his six children.
Nieto’s artistic inclinations and talent deserve equal praise. As an artist, Nieto specializes in creating wall-mounted metal artwork, oftentimes with the use of scraps, turning what would have been trash into something of value.
One of his artworks, in fact, is proudly displayed in his office at Manila City Hall. “That depicts the map of Cubao,” Nieto told the Inquirer in a one-on-one interview, pointing to the artwork. He said his artistic expression serves as his creative outlet and a means to destress from the demanding responsibilities of his role as vice mayor.
Art has been a lifelong love for Nieto, a result of watching his father, architect, and artist Martin Nieto, who was always immersed in his paintings when he was growing up. The COVID-19 pandemic further reignited his passion for art, as he would often see his second child, who is studying fashion design, sketch at home.
“My artwork comes from the heart, reflecting meaningful journeys in my life. I would often draw inspiration from my personal experiences and use those as themes to work on,” Nieto said. “For example, I’ve worked on art inspired by the place I grew up in, as well as a piece inspired by the places I would always campaign at during the elections.”
Despite lacking formal training in welding or art, Nieto relies on his innate creativity to conceptualize his artwork and bring it to life with his skilled hands.
His metal artwork has garnered attention and appreciation, leading to numerous solo and group exhibits, many of which are held in collaboration with charitable institutions.
A solo show, in fact, called “Direction 2,” is on display at the Manila Hotel Art Gallery at the moment (the exhibit runs until July 10). A third installment of the exhibit is slated to be mounted. Nieto’s commitment to philanthropy is evident as he donates portions of the proceeds to various causes, ensuring his art makes a difference in the lives of others.
Nieto is committed to pushing for more arts and tourism-related programs in Manila so the city can further reap the economic benefits of a thriving tourism industry while preserving its rich heritage for future generations to appreciate.
Nieto said: “Balancing the demands of public service, artistic pursuits, and taking care of my family is no easy feat. But I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Manila, which motivates me to do good every day. When you love what you do, everything becomes easier.”