Wednesday, July 7, 2010

M is for Manila.

I ran away to Manila last weekend :)


This time I was joined by my globe-trotting friend TutyFabregas, and in Manila Andrea played host and made sure we were taken care of and well-fed :) I got to know Andrea through Tuty and she had helped me with my plans for the Banaue trip I did last February, it was nice to finally meet her in person.

I did not take many pictures - I don't know why? plus some were dark and blurry - so here's some that I hope will do justice to the weekend.

On arrival at Clark/DMIA, there were dozens of people cramming to watch something. Found out there was a shooting going on for a TV series and the lead actor was someone famous. I asked and was told his name was Mark Hereras or something like that? I replied, oh I only know Jericho Rosales :)

I stayed at Bel-Air Brgy., Makati the first night at Our Melting Pot Backpackers. On the bus I befriended another Sabahan girl, Izzy, who bravely came to Manila without any room bookings! I suggested she follow me first to see if there were any beds available. Thankfully they managed to accommodate her for one night. As it was rather late we only had time to grab some dinner and check out nearby drugstores before returning to the hostel. The Handle Bar across the road was brimming with the football watching crowd who whooped and cheered as Brasil were booted out by Oranje.

On Saturday after Tuty arrived we decided to go to SM Mall of Asia and meet up with Andrea there. We only had to take 2 jeepney rides - very fast, very cheap. At Buendia, our first stop, a kindly guy (sorry I forgot his name) helped to show us where to take the next jeepney to MoA. This is not the picture of the one we boarded though, it's certainly the newest and shiniest of the lot I saw. The driver gave us a thumbs up sign when he realised we took a picture.

This was taken on jeepney we boarded. I feel safe already.

At MoA, while walking around window shopping we spotted this stall selling very cute miniature ice-cream of five flavours! Yummy! Too cute to eat!

Andrea picked us up and we went for a seafood dinner at erm.....what was it called? I can't remember. Anyhow, the area was packed packed packed with people. (Update : It was Trinity Ihaw-Ihaw Restaurant, I think).

I think this was the only food shot I took that night. That was one huge mean crab. We also had oysters, clam soup, steamed prawns, sweet sour fish, and seaweed salad.

The next day we went to Tagaytay with Andrea's family and had lunch at this lovely place that was tucked off the main road.

I mentioned to Tuty when we arrived that it reminded me Tuscany? (as if I've been there. doh). Then later after lunch, the owner Neil came by and told us they were actually featured in a home lifestyle magazine recently - guess what's the title? Tuscany in Tagaytay!

One of the coziest looking corner I've seen. I can pretend I am in Tuscany. The only thing that's missing is the vineyard :)

Andrea discussing the menu while Tuty checks out the place.

Next we headed on to the Tagaytay Highlands - which seemed like a very exclusive club from the way security and access were handled. Our plans to board the cable car were dashed as thunder rolled and it was deemed unsafe for cable car operations. A little while after we left, it started to drizzle.

We then headed to its Country Club to wait out the rain, unfortunately it got heavier. A visit to its zoo was also aborted. We ended up having pizzas for an early dinner.

The calm before the rain.

The next day we went to Intramuros. Survived the morning rush on the LRT - they were packed like anchovies!

Andrea explaining the history of Intramuros and the Spanish colonisation that was over 300 years (1565-1898); with Tuty looking on.

Fancy a ride on a kalesa (horse carriage)?

Fort Santiago entrance. St James, slayer of the moors, is probably the one on horseback (?). He's the patron saint of Spain.

These brass plates indicate Jose Rizal's last steps within the fort before he was taken away to Luneta Park to be executed. Remember Jose Rizal? His book was Noli Me Tangere, which we learnt in Form 1 or Form 2 Sejarah lessons.

A statue of Jose Rizal, the nation's hero.

This cross marks the final resting place of 600 Filipinos and Americans who died in the atrocities of WWII.

Some visitors went into the dungeons. Reminded me of Cu Chi.

Finally a picture with my face! This was with the fort guard. I was lugging my backpack around as I had to head on to the Philtranco bus terminal before noon.

Jose Rizal's 'Mi Ultimo Adios' (My Last Farewell) engraved on the marble wall. Outside, many other translated versions have been made; Chinese, Korean, French, Czech, Japanese etc.

The 'original' Mi Ultimo Adios, in Rizal's handwriting, immortalised in brass.

I was fascinated by this : a letter written by Asuncion Lopez Bantug, Rizal's grand-niece, 'engraved' on the wooden floor.

View of Pasig River, that runs through Manila but not used for transport or anything, according to Andrea. I never imagined a river within Manila. Perhaps it's 'overshadowed' by the islands.

The Royal Warehouses - 'Almacanes Reales' - used for storage of goods brought in through the port before distribution.

The Manila Cathedral - booking for weddings and events need to be made 6 to 12 months in advance.

Inscription at the main entrance. I intend to find out what it means.

A replica of La Pieta - not sure if this one is made from the same mould as the original La Pieta, and from the same Carrara marble from the same quarry.

The Angel's scarf is the vessel for the holy water.

San Agustin - the oldest stone church (completed 1607); a UN World Heritage site. One of the four Baroque Churches of the Philippines. Unfortunately the church was closed at that time. It doesn't look old as it has been repatched.

The UN World Heritage Site inscription for San Agustin, 1993.

The main doors of San Agustin.

Door to Museum and convent.

Chinese influence in form of two pairs of Foo dogs / lions next to the main doors.

Outside the old Spanish house? It was closed on Mondays so we didn't get to go inside.

Outside Barbara's.

Streets of cobblestones. You don't want to wear heels here.

Guard in uniform and unique hat - don't know what it is called.

Finally a picture with faces :) After that we cabbed it to Quiapo.

'Basilika Ng Nazarene' - Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, or Church of Quiapo.

This church is crowded because it is where you go to make special wishes. There was an ongoing service the time we passed through.

Lady selling 'Wishing Candles' at the Quiapo market. We burnt a bundle of colours.

Each coloured candle has its own meaning. I think we went for the Rainbow.

And for fun I got my fortune told via cards (tarots?). Ha, now, if only they come true!!

We walked through the wet street market, and just after I snapped this pic a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said something while pointing at my necklace. I heard she said 'snatch thief" then I understood, so Andrea helped me to remove my necklace. Better to be safe than sorry. So yes, do be careful and remove or hide any jewellery when going to crowded places. I was also told earlier that some times in jeepneys it is also not safe either.

The archway to Muslim town, where the Quiapo mosque is located, and halal food can be obtained. We had some local chicken rice at one of the shops there.

Tuty looking at some souvenirs. Almost all their souvenirs are similar to what we can find in the Filipino market in KK so I did not buy any.

I foresee a return trip sometime in the future, this time purely with the intention of getting good retail therapy. I hope. I only managed a bit of Glorietta 4 this time.

Erm, I think for the first half of the year I've been such a regular face at the airport that the one of the airport security asked me "Eh, jalan lagi?" I don't know if being recognised by the security is a good thing?

I have two more coming trips soon and after that I'm done with my travels, at least for the next few months. Need to take a breather, focus on work, consider pursuing non-travel related interests, and give a rest to my brown selipar and backpack as well as (especially!) the wallet.

Happy second half of the year, friends!


  1. Hey, you went back! :D Looks like you had a packed weekend!

    The Pasig River is actually used for transport. In the days of Jose Rizal, he would take a boat from his hometown in Laguna to Maynila. It would pass through the Laguna de Bay, which connects to the Pasig River.

    Today, there's the Pasig River ferry, that has roues from Marikina to Plaza Mexico in Intramuros. Next time you're here, do try it out! There's a station in Guadalupe, Makati, and it takes about 40 minutes to Escolta, where there are gorgeous buildings and is the gateway to Chinatown.

    Barbara's is a pretty awesome restaurant. It's fine dining, but you can come in even if you're not dressed up, since they know most of the people who come to Intramuros are tourists. Best to have dinner there from Tuesdays to Fridays. They have a buffet, and for Php500, you get to enjoy favorite Filipino dishes (from the salad to the dessert!) AND they have a group of students performing folk dances. Really nice place :)

  2. wohoo. This is cool! The cathedral and all. I think the celebity cook Bobby Chin did one of his cooking shows outside the Spanish house, exactly from where you took the picture from. Thanks for sharing, Manila seems to be worth a visit then. I was considering of cancelling my trip there soon but I think I'll just go on with it then. :-)

  3. Nina - it was pretty packed weekend, that's why I know I want to go there again one day soon. Thanks for the info, it would help the next time I am there. I'd love to join the Binondo and Old Manila Walks :)

    Jipp - don't cancel! Go ahead with your trip, there is a lot to see and experience. Next time I'll plan to be there longer.