Ships ride at anchor out in Manila Bay. Closer to shore, children are swimming and playing with a raft. Their gleeful shouts help you forget that pensive-looking man with a sleeping child in his arms, seen earlier in the day, walking slowly down a business street as others hurried off to work.

Sparks fly as a worker smooths a weld in an auto assembly plant.

And political sparks continue to fly around the 16-year rule of President Ferdinand Marcos, 63. Though he has just authorized the first presidential election since 1969, to be held in June, he seems assured of reelection, since the main opposition has decided not to field a candidate. Former Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr., his best-known antagonist, is only 48, and the newly imposed minimum age for candidates is 50.

The modern skyline of Manila's business district is an impressive indicator of economic progress. Meanwhile, back in the harbor, signs of rapid development are coming to several areas. Friendly workers carrying heavy sacks of grain ashore may be photogenic, but they are being replaced by container operations.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.