Monday, November 20, 2006

First Taste of Manila



I had the opportunity to travel to Manila a few days ago to get a taste of what it's like and to have an idea of where some important locations are at. I was there for only about 24 hours.

I took the Victory Liner from Olongapo to Sampaloc. It was about a 4 hour trip all-together from those two cities. My first observations upon stepping off the bus was that it is much hotter in Manila. I could easily feel the heat burning my skin. Apart from the heat, the air wasn't great either due to the pollution. Global warming and polluted air seems to be the two main environmental problems of metropolitan areas. Along with these, of course, comes a string of diseases. I also took note of the humongous billboards, which I had noticed before when I landed in the Philippines during my arrival.

I asked a security guard where the nearest palengke was and he pointed me towards the mall, adding that there were no wet markets nearby. I was accompanied by my Philippine Army friend that I mentioned earlier in my blog. We travelled through some parts of the Manila area. I'm sure if I didn't have someone as a guide I would be bound to get lost. Manila's streets are also packed with weaving vehicles and pedestrians.

I believe the first SM mega mall we headed towards was SM North Edsa. These SM mega malls seem to be some of the primary main attractions in Metro Manila and other large cities. We walked around inside, taking the chance to cool off and take a quick e-mail check at an internet cafe. I was surprised by the considerably higher internet fee rate in Manila, which was around 60 pesos per hour. After that, we decided to head out again and check out SM Mall of Asia, which I was informed was the third largest mall in the world. In order to get there, we took the MRT (Manila Metro Rail Transit System), which is the cheapest way of getting around Manila. While riding, I saw several towering buildings. And immediately next to some of these modern buildings were slums. These extended squatter areas' coexistence with such modern modern skyscrapers seems to exhibit how the Philippine's socioeconomic structure really is, which is an extreme at both ends. I mentioned this in "Champorado" (under the section "The Sickness"), where I noted the wide wealth gap that exists in the Philippines.

There were many things I wanted to photograph, but unfortunately my batteries died on me. Like ants, people rushed out of the MRT tram to their own destinations. We got off at Pasay and rode a jeepney to SM Mall of Asia. SM Mall of Asia was indeed the largest mall I have ever visited. We walked around inside and decided to sit for a while and rest on some red couches overlooking a giant Christmas tree.

Sitting at the red couches, an old Chinese lady in the next seat spoke to me. She talked about her life and her travels to different areas of the world. Apparently, she was visiting the Philippines for the second time (the first was 25 years ago). I asked her what her impression was of the Philippines. She said that it's very poor and very dirty. I also had the same cluttered and dirty observation of the Philippines.

When I first arrived in the Philippines, I was actually a little surprised when people just threw trash along the side of the road and everywhere else. This unsanitary situation of the Philippines should be one of the priorities of the government to alleviate and counter in order to benefit public health and the environment. And not only that, cleanliness should be embedded into the public's mind for a faster and more effective change to occur. For example, dengue is caused by mosquitoes bred in dirty water. If people would get down to the root of the problem instead of always medicating the symptoms, then problems like diseases would be greatly reduced. However, I did notice that the business and tourist district of Manila was quite clean, for obvious reasons. It seems acts such as the act of cleanliness is only observed where money is involved. Does it really require money for people to make a change for better health? The power of money does place me in awe sometimes.

We were able to get a glimpse of the beautiful sunset atop SM Mall of Asia overlooking Manila Bay. We then travelled some more that evening through the Manila streets. Manila is just alive at night as it is during the day. I passed through some historical sites that I hope to visit again in the future when I am able to stay for a longer period of time. A person also informed me that the layout of Manila was quite similar to Washington D.C. This did not surprise me as I have pointed out also in "Champorado" that the U.S. had left strong prints in several systems in the Philippines. As I said, only about 24 hours was spent before I headed back home.

Before leaving, I realized that despite being a modern metropolitan city, Manila (I'm referring to the tourist and also the business district as I have not fully experienced other parts) still had more appeal than other cities I had been to in the U.S. It seems that the effort put into beautification, entertainment (public outdoor shows as well as indoor), social gathering spots, and the close proximity of it all makes the city quite appealling. And combine that with the availability of cheap leisure (for example, walking alongside Manila Bay, at Luneta park, or one of the SM mega malls), the colorful culture of the Philippines, and the happy disposition and quantity of Filipino people, then you have yourself a city with a very strong social attraction.













26 comments:

springfairy said...

hi kuya david! true true true! kahit na Filipino ako, i can really say that Philippines lalo na sa Manila is quite dirty. When you're entering Balintawak from NLEX (North Luzon Expressway), grabe! baho! But there are some beautiful spots in the Philippines naman eh, wala lang talagang disiplina ang mga pilipino. Kaya, sensya na. God bless and one more, hanga talaga ako sa'yo! Hope you'll come back in Bataan.

Aikin said...

wow.. tlaga pumunta kang MoA(Mall of Asia)?.. Dpat cnabi mo, malapit lang kami dun.. I should have see you in person... e di dpat ako pa nagtour sa'yo.. hehe

Aikin said...

Ayos lang.. talagang ganito sa maynila.. puno ng pulusyon, dumi, kalat, squatters, lahat.. Pero tignan mo pa rin ang mga tao, despite of poverty and everything.. puro masasaya.. Waaaahhh.. mga Pilipino nga naman..

Gary said...

Dagnabit!!! You were here?! And half an hour from where I live!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello, just recently stumbled upon your blog and it instanly hooked me. I've been reading some of the entries and i began to asked myself (and if you could answer it) where are you staying?
that has been bothering me since the first time I read some of yopur entries.

that's all for now...
take care of yourself... ^_^

janis chua said...

very well said..some insight you got there..

thanks again, david!

Mel said...

David,

Has anybody ever recognized you while you were going around Metro Manila? There's a big chance somebody you bumped into inside the MRT train has read your blog or saw you on TV.

Regards,
Mel

Joven said...

Hi David!

Im glad you have visited Manila but hope you came back and stay a little longer.

US and other cities also has those areas that you said "cluttered and dirty". It is not unique to Manila.

Anyhow, you should include Intramuros to your itenerary next time you vist the city.

czar said...

quite a long time since you update your blog. young man, nakakaaddict yong site mo. i can't log off the computer without visiting your blog. more power to you and hope that you won't be despaired by some people there who are only envious of what u've got. as long as there are people na napapasaya mo at wala kang inagrabyadong tao go on young man. you're still one of the finest in your generation. you've got my admiration and saludo ako sa iyo. good luck sa paglalakbay mo and as the song goes, "there's no star in heaven above that you can not reach." looking forward to see you with your golden coconut for i'm sure it's not far from your reach. Godspeed.....

Anonymous said...

dude - i just thought so you were in SM City. i saw you. you were in white shirt and jeans with a pregnant lady (i pressume your wife.

you look good i was suppose to go and introduce myself to you but i was prevented by the ga

Anonymous said...

Dude why just a short stint in manila.

I was in SM City – I though I saw you at around noon time I made second look but I saw who was with you.. decided not to make moves.

Let us know thru your blogs if you are coming back

Anonymous said...

hahaha you feel like that about Manila for the first few days you;re there. but if you just stick around a little longer... that's when it hooks you. it's a fun place to live in. just the right backwardness and forwardness combined. overall a happy place to live in. rich in diversity... including poverty... you would try to help eradicate that right?

cheers!

mogomogofan@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hei David!

Hope you're doin well! Yeah, you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! Manila is a hell to me. Though it has impressive skycrapers...Makati especially and historical landmarks, the odor around is just NAKAKASUKA! I dont like smelly slums. When the I went out from the SM City Manila, I vomitted due to its foul odor. Gee, the government must do something in Manila 'bout it. It's just very disgusting for any tourist to experience such.
One city that is different in the rest of the Philippine cities and that is Davao. I'm living here. Just try to discover it through the net and you will learn why... from wikepedia to tourism site of the Philippines and most especially the site of the city government of Davao.
Hope someday you can visit here...
Ingats lagi!...more power!

Joel

avid_fan said...

it's sad but true...kahit pinoy ako, inaamin ko na maraming ginagawa ang mga pinoy na kadiri... kahit nga sa ibang parte ka pa ng pilipinas,..may mga taong talagang ganyan hindi lang manila... but look at the bright side... there's more or less 7,000 islands you haven't visited... and i can assure you na maraming places dito ay magaganda...hindi lang manila...

Anonymous said...

Gee.. you went to manila... Well what you said is somehow true. Some places here in manila really do stink... If ever you would visit marikina you would find out that there are palces that are still clean, of course except the tourist spots that are regularly clean for tourist.... Hope you would inform me if ever you would go to Antipolo, I reside there. Not that I know Antipolo that well. I just want to meet you in person, that's all. See ya next time.... ;)

death_of_gabriel@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

My husband and I a few days ago took our baby boy in SM Mall of Asia and suddenly remembered your visit here in Manila.

Well, Manila may look so cluttered but this is our home. They say the home is where the heart is. Despite the places we've visited in the US an in other countries, my hubby and I still look forward to coming home here. And I hope and pray that you find the Philippines as one of your homes.

Take care.

gilgab

Anonymous said...

am glad youve traveled again kuya david...GOD BLESS....

Trish said...

Hay! kuya David

I think you had a good time despite seeing those "other" things.. May you return to manila in the near futur, couse I think you have'nt seen it all !!

Check my site in
Friendshipmoments.multiply.com
&
Insixthgrade.multiply.com

Good morning kappY said...

haha i spotted you at SM north edsa,I think u r w/ ur GF... At first I was in doubt if it was really you, so when i called you, seems ur gf heard it... I was the one who shouted ur blog name "Coconuter" while u were both crossing in the Pedestrian line. I'm happy i get tthe chance to see u in person. U are really good looking...

I went to Sm North to get my new cel w/ cam. Im just a bit disappointed bcoz i didnt have the chance to have pic w/ u or chat w/ u.Sayang kung medyo npaaga lmng san ung pagkuha ko sa cel e di sana may pic na ako w/ u.

I hope someday, pumunta k uli d2 and bumped w/ u again.

Ur rigth, polluted tlga d2 sa MM kaya i get easily dizzy kc iba ung init n may kasamang pollution

Anonymous said...

Damn! No one has described my city the way you did. I never saw it for other than the obvious, that is, I live here. I never really appreciated it for its aesthetic beauty and cultural depth. I must admit, maybe I've been taking it for granted. And it's refreshing when someone who's not from here would see something in it that most of us don't.

Mark said...

I dont wanna live in Manila, its better here in the province!

karen said...

hey david!try going to quezon province. you'll love it there!

Anonymous said...

ang gaan basahin ng blog mo. at since nag rerecommend na nag mga tao na maganda puntahan, bakit di ka pumunta sa samar kapag nagkataon, lalo na sa eleksyon. makikita mo kung ano klase ng eleksyon meron dun

Anonymous said...

hey,.. david,.. ive just watched u in Nagmamahal kapamilya.. i think ur cool.. even u choose to just stayed and to hve a simple life in PI.. gravehh.. saludo ko sau!! ang lupet mo!! nwey.. regards to ur wife.. heard shes pregnant.. God bless for u both!!

Carlo Leigh said...

Good day, David! It's nice visiting your blogsite for the first time since i heard about it for about a couple of months ago (from a TV show - Nagmamahal Kapamilya). I was then inspired by your story... I couldnt't entirely imagine how did you managed to choose living here in a "Third World Country" rather than the place where you were accustomed living in. It's such an "unbelievable" act of setting aside those achievements, wealth etc just to find your real self.. Keep on inspiring Filipino people!

CaLoY IsNiT said...

david,

you did went to SM North EDSA, the first 5 pictures are from SM North EDSA, SM Mega Mall is located at Ortigas.

Well its nice to know that you liked your visit here in Manila.

take care =)

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