To experience what Manila really is, at least for me, you would have to walk around the dirty streets and pass by a couple of street children having fun in the foul-smelling canal. You would have to endure the heavy traffic almost everywhere and you would have to be aware of thieves and snatchers. That is not to say Manila doesn't have chic and modern places. There are a lot, actually. But what makes it really special is that there will always be things that would remind you of its glorious history.
The Quiapo Church is usually the starting point of someone who wants to explore the area. From there, you can check out the shopping stalls in Carriedo and Hidalgo streets, the Plaza Miranda, the Lacson underpass, the Mosque, the Ayala Bridge, and the awesome street food.
In all honesty it's quite difficult to cover all the amazing places in Manila in just one blog post. There's always Divisoria, Binondo, España, Mendiola, Escolta and Avenida avenues. The places I discussed are just my favorite ones. I'll probably post about the other places some time in the near future.
If you're the type who likes arranged tours, you can try Carlos Celdran's Walk This Way Tour.
And to end this post, here's my jump shot for Manila. :)