Wow, this is big

Manila Travel Blog

 › entry 23 of 47 › view all entries
TB meet up on arrival, how lucky can you be?!?

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.

One of the Videoke Meccas here. private booths with room service, flatscreen, 2 mics, the works! :)
This quote pretty much sums it up:

"Philippinos have spent 400 years living in a convent and the last 50 years living in Hollywood"

                  C. Nakpil

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.

Jeepney out of hell
Gathering from what coffeefairy told me about her Grandfather who fought during WWII in the Bataan peninsula fighting alongside the Americans against the Japanese was the patriotic thing to do.

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.

Intramuros to the backkdrop of modern Manila
It's as the book says, you cannot escape it. You'll here it everywere, more or less off key voices singing Pinoy and Western classics. In the more classy karaoke joints you get a private booth with flat screen TV, 2 mics, ten thousands of songs to choose from and room service for food and booze. I loved it, karaoke rules! :-D. No wonder Filipinos have a reputation for being excellent singers, they start early here. The budget home version is called the magic mic, which you can plug into your TV and comes with rechargeable chips for new songs, still have to get one of those :-P.

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.

Intramuros - San Agustin Church #2
There seems to be 2 types of hassle: asking triple the price (applies mostly to tourists) and asking for a small 'surcharge' because of traffic/gas prices etc (applies to everybody). 20 Peso on top of a long ride is more or less a normal tip so not too annoying. Untill now Vietnam is still by far "hassle country #1" for me.

jilltrekker says:
I loved how you summed up your impressions of my country and us, Pinoys. So astute of you!
Posted on: Jul 21, 2008
yheleen says:
wow - great description of Manila and the country :) am glad you're enjoying your stay here.. it's a shame tho that we won't be able to meet you in the meet-up this Thursday:)
Posted on: Jul 14, 2008
ice9van says:
Im currently in Saigon, & I have to agree with you as it is stressful here with all the motorbikes & drivers asking "Want motorbike lady?" after I've refused for about the nth time.
Posted on: Jul 05, 2008
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TB meet up on arrival, how lucky c…
TB meet up on arrival, how lucky …
One of the Videoke Meccas here. pr…
One of the Videoke Meccas here. p…
Jeepney out of hell
Jeepney out of hell
Intramuros to the backkdrop of mod…
Intramuros to the backkdrop of mo…
Intramuros - San Agustin Church #2
Intramuros - San Agustin Church #2
7 lanes through Manila
7 lanes through Manila
Malls malls malls #1
Malls malls malls #1
The disco Absolute in club Bed.
The disco Absolute in club 'Bed'.
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #1
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #1
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #2
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #2
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #3
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #3
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #4
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #4
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #5
Intramuros - Fort Santiago #5
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Intramuros - streets
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Intramuros - in good Filipino rev…
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School kids practicing their dan…
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Museum of the Philippino people #…
Museum of the Philippino people #2…
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Manila
photo by: Deats