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Published: October 14th 2011
Taken at Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila
It's not paradise. It's not everyone's cup of tea. Or (good, undiluted) coffee. It's dirty here and there. But there are pockets of interesting sites you may wish to have a look at before entirely skipping Manila to check out the beaches of Boracay, breathing the mountain air of Baguio, scaling the rice terraces of Banaue, taking a boat ride in the Underground River in Palawan, swimming in the big and small lagoons of El Nido, imagining the unspoilt islands of Batanes, marveling at the Chocolate Hills and tarsiers in Bohol, or diving somewhere off Anilao in Batangas.
This year, I concentrated on domestic destinations and had a wonderful time rediscovering my own country. Each to his own taste. And mine is still lusting for more. In between trips to swim with the whale sharks of Donsol, Sorsogon or visiting heritage houses up north in Ilocos or down south in Silay City or the nearer-to-the-city Taal, Batangas, I had the pleasure of going around Manila every free afternoon I have.
I live in Makati, a skip and a hop away from Greenbelt or the CBD. It is not Manila , of course. The urban landscape
No Temples, We Have Churches.
Intramuros and other parts of Manila have heritage churches you may care to visit, if you have the time. http://marilil.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/four-hours-to-waste-in-manila/
still pales in comparison with its Asian neighbours but still, it is neater and tidier than most parts of Manila. Yet the rest of the city has its charm. That, despite the fact that Manila is the second most-bombed city in World War II, leaving only a sliver of its historical and cultural heritage.
My usual drill whenever I entertain friends is to give them a day tour of the city beginning with Chinatown (pre-Spanish Period), Intramuros (seat of Spanish colonial government for nearly 400 years), and ending with either the Baywalk/Yacht Club Area for a glimpse of Manila Bay and Imelda's Reclamation Area where now sits some of our cultural centers. This itinerary is "chronologically correct" in so far as our history is concerned. The last "drill" I made was with fellow-TravelBloggers Jan and Polona of Rice Capades 2011 2012
who seem to have taken a liking for Chinatown, the dirtiest of the 3 Manila sites I just mentioned. Jan and Polona liked the dumplings in a hole-in-the-wall eatery I took them to, sharing a table in a tiny room filled with 3 more tiny tables. I know they did, because they told me they went back a second time
Taken from Harbour Square at the end of Baywalk. http://marilil.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/idling-time-away-at-harbour-square/
after their visit to the Whale Shark Town of Donsol, Sorsogon. $2 for a dozen dumplings? And you see them making it from scratch right from where you sit. Not bad, if you are not squeamish. I didn't have the luxury of time when I met with Ben of LivingTheDream
or with Stuart Hurlbut of Stuart
, both of whom I brought to this local eatery by the Bay behind the biggest mall in Asia.
It is not the best day trip. I would be more inclined to introduce them to the likes of Carlos Celdran and Ivan Man Dy, both famous tour guides who genuinely love Manila in the midst of all the chaos and show it in their passionate review of the city. Their tours cost US $20-25, but oftentimes they settle for a kiss on the cheek or some other barter to take on a tourist to visit Manila sites with them. They do not expect anything else when they do this (for free), except for their tourists or visitors to gain a good appreciation and understanding of what Manila offers. Hats off to them, really.
As with other cities in other areas of
This is Chinatown where you find good eats and good bargains.
the world, there are those characters you wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole. Just like there are characters whose minds are closed to what's around them, and miss out on appreciating something interestingly different from what they are used to. Girls and pimps who'd hassle you endlessly. Thieves and snatchers preying on tourists. And then there are those who genuinely like talking to foreigners. When you meet them, give them a chance. The young girls may be a giggly bunch, and I suspect it's how they hide their discomfort with the English language or meeting foreigners, but they may be fun to talk to. I have this habit of talking to young people (Jan and Polona, if you are reading this, you know what I mean) and really enjoy such free-wheeling conversations. No, I am not a lonely old hag with no one to talk to. And though retired from regular work, I do keep a busy schedule too. Fortunately, I do not exactly "attract" the wrong kind. I feel comfortable with young students having that grand time of their lives. They giggle and laugh at almost anything. A few minutes with them can bring cheer to your afternoon.
A maze of streets and alleys, with the aroma of freshly steamed dumplings beckon. One of my fav haunts. http://marilil.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-street-vendors-of-manila/
Can you imagine how happy you make them when you treat them to a few cones of ice cream or at Starbucks where they are having their very first espresso ever? Starbucks don't come cheap, and many of them find it a big treat to try this coffee. 😊
I belong to a local Travel blog community counting about 200 members. I suspect (no, I AM SURE) I am the oldest in this group where average age must be in the mid-20s. Don't ask me how I got invited to join them. Maybe I'm cool, for a grandma. 😊 Young, energetic, adventurous and easy to react...........they are also some of the most prolific bloggers I have come to know and read about. I enjoy their blogs whenever I find the chance, and share their love for the country as well as their frustrations over some things where we feel our government can do way better.
Come. And when you do, keep an open mind. Manila ain't all that bad. Besides, I promise you you will find a few sites worth photographing, and good beer to try! Check out this site.
. . . . .
No Crowds in Museums
400 years of Spanish colonization show in these heritage churches and monasteries turned museums. http://marilil.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/revisiting-san-agustin-church-and-monastery/
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the San Agustin Church' style='width:300px;height:240px;' id='img-6018133'>
Inside the San Agustin Church