Wow, this is big
Manila Travel Blog› entry 23 of 47 › view all entries
It's big and chaotic but it's also fun. Manila is a city on a grand scale, actually the first big city I see in 3 months, but I got used to the 7 lane streets, crazy traffic, massive billboards and hundreds of fast food joints soon enough.
The Filpino TB's are really active so it was great to have a meet up & dinner the day I arrived, really welcoming and warm people (thanks coffeefairy, bloodsucker, planisphere, jear, jennethm, jilltrekker and everybody else!!).
After Malaysia and Indonesia the culture is a bit puzzling, it seems that if you put Spain, USA and Asia in a blender what you get is the Phillipines, it's full of contrasts. Most Filipinos will be devoute catholics with what seems 1950's European morals and pornography is forbidden, but on the other hand if you see a middle aged overweight westerner here there's almost surely a 20-ish Filipino girl walking next to him, there's go-go bars aplenty and there's tons of openly and flamboyantly gay guys walking around.
"Philippinos have spent 400 years living in a convent and the last 50 years living in Hollywood"
Filipino food varies from the kind of standard Asian pork in soy sauce (Adobo) and Pansit noodles to duck embryo eggs (Balot), fried pork intestines, fried pork brain, skin and organs (Sisig), to McDonalds and KFC and every fast food chain imaginable in between... Never been to so many malls and had this many Starbuck coffees and burgers in my life. From the 'keep to your lane' driving to overprivatised public services, American impact seems to have been pretty big here. And talking with the Pinoy it seems for a lot of people the best thing would be to move to the US and live the American dream.
Intramuros, the historical walled center of Manila, is nice to get a feel for how it must have been in the old days, but American artillery left little standing by the time the battle for Manila was over. Either that or countless fires, earthquakes and typhoons made sure a lot buildings and churches have been rebuilt many times over since the end of the 16th century. A lot of the history of the buildings reads like "built in 1587, destroyed by fire in 1589, rebuilt in 1599, destroyed by typhoon in 1602, etc etc".
And then there's karaoke, or more accurately 'videoke' as it's called here.
Was expecting some hassle judging by the notouriety of Manila but it turned out not too bad, some cabbies will try and rip you off but there's always some more 2 seconds away willing to use the meter.