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Published: December 1st 2012
We feel incredibly fortunate in that while in Manila, we were well-taken care of by our friend Lili, who not only has been a resident of Manila for decades, but is also a well-known contributor to TravelBlog. She immediately disproved what at least one blogger had written about this fine city. It would be easy to dismiss Manila as a place worthy of interest if you read and believe all the blogs and publications, which usually portray it as a large dirty Southeast Asian city. Even the “bible” of the backpacking lot, the Lonely Planet says that Manila is a “misunderstood city”.
Manila is vibrant, exciting and ready to welcome any number of travelers to show off its warmth and hospitality. Although it may not be a place to spend more than a week, (not many cities are) there is plenty to do and see.
Part of the issue is that the government of the Philippines does not promote Manila, as a tourist destination while the other is perhaps that there are not enough hostels and guesthouses for the budget traveler. All of this contributes to a not-so-shining endorsement of this fine city. Indeed, Manila
View from Tagaytay
Taal Lake & Volcano
suffers from most of the ills that befall a large city; overcrowding, traffic congestion, and of course the accompanying poverty. In all honesty though, what large city in the world does not also suffer from these same issues?
Hopefully soon the government or the department of tourism will become better organized and embrace all of the potential jobs and income that can benefit from tourism. This city offers a great deal of history ...
From our point of view Manila has plenty to offer.
It was quite a stroke of luck that we were able to rent a condo in the upscale neighborhood of Makati. What a great neighborhood. We could easily walk to the Greenbelt Mall where there seemed to be an unlimited number of restaurants and bars. We enjoyed a breakfast buffet across the street from our condo at The Plantation for $5. Most establishments offer happy hours (what’s not to like about this) where we enjoyed San Miguel beer for $2.50. Most restaurants and coffee shops offer free wi-fi. We can recommend Via Mare Oyster Bar, Zuni Restaurant and Wine Bar, Cervaseria.
One of our favorite evenings
Manila city view
lovely and modern
was having dinner with our friends Lili and Tinnie at the Via Mare Oyster Bar. Travel affords us an opportunity to spend time with people that we genuinely care about and share an interest in travel with.
On our first day of touring Lili took us to the world’s smallest active volcano named Taal volcano. It is a short day trip from Manila. We started by having lunch on Taal Lake so we could first view the volcano from the seashore and at ground level. It is rather impressive surrounded by the lake. This volcano has an interesting history but changed the way things looked in 1911 when it erupted. According to the Lonely Planet it has 47 craters and 35 volcanic cones and remains one of the world’s deadliest volcanoes. Although dormant now, it could potentially wreak havoc some day. For now, it provides more than a few stunning vistas to enjoy.
Next we headed to the town of Tagaytay, which is on a ridge above the volcano. From the Taal Vista Hotel we were offered a lovely view of the lake, craters and volcanic cones. On the drive to this area we
saw some amazing McMansions (American slang for huge homes) and lovely lakeside hotels with views that bring a hefty price tag.
We were discussing with Lili that Manila seemed to be missing the hop on hop off tourist buses that are featured in many cities to help tourist get around. She pointed out that those buses would not be successful in Manila because the sites are spread out and the city has a great deal of traffic. After our visit, that makes good sense.
A trip to Manila would not be complete without a visit to the Inramuros (walled city) within Manila. Built originally over 500 hundred years ago to protect the city from potential invaders, it was nearly ruined at the end of World War II as the Japanese dug in and the Americans bombed the city for eight days. In 1979, the government began in earnest to rebuild this area and many positive signs are emerging that will better display the proud history of Manila, including Fort Santiago and many other buildings and churches. We enjoy history quite a bit, so we found this place quite interesting. It is well worth hiring
Dining with good friends
A travel blog get together.
a guide who can provide great knowledge of the area and we enjoyed the horse and buggy ride that came along with that knowledge.
We ate lunch at Restauarnte della Mitre, where all the items on the menu are named after different Bishops and Cardinals. It is said that if you eat there you will be blessed. Who can take the chance, we enjoyed our lunch there very much.
We made a quick trip through Chinatown. Since we lived in San Francisco and spent a fair amount of time in their Chinatown we just took a quick peek. We did however stop in one of the lovely churches in Chinatown where a Chinese wedding was about to begin. We decided to wait the ten minutes so we could see the bride walk down the aisle. She was lovely. There were two very young flower girls and when it was time for them to walk down the aisle one of them had a complete melt down and had to be picked up and removed for a period of time. She never did resume her duties.
Lili also showed us the Coconut Palace,
which Imelda Marcos had built in anticipation of a stay by Pope John Paul. A serious amount of money went into the construction of this place, where the Pope never stayed, as he elected to stay elsewhere when he heard of her opulent plans for his stay. It is now the residence and workplace for the Vice President of the Philippines.
Our last afternoon in Manila before heading off to the southern islands Lili took us to her massage parlor where we all enjoyed a wonderful one hour massage for $11. What a great afternoon. We’ve been telling Lili what a wonderful hostess and tour guide she has been but after the massage we were telling her she had failed us by not getting these massages on our first day in town so we could get them each day there after!
We will be back in Manila for one night after our visit to the islands of Malapascua, Bohol and Palawan. We look forward to having dinner again with our Travel Blog friends before departing this lovely country.
If you would like to read some local Filipano bloggers who have gone
I should have taken notes
Lili took great care to make sure we tried several local dishes and she told me the names of all of them.
to many parts of their country you will want to read the following bloggers. liliram TinNiE
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