“Horrendous traffic. Very dirty. Crowded. Stressful way of life."
These are some words that my friends use to describe Manila. Some of them discourage me of visiting Manila; they keep on insisting that I should visit Baguio, Batangas or Laguna instead. But I always have this urge to travel and explore Manila. Behind the towering skyscrapers of Makati Central Business District, and the heavily polluted waterways and highways lies the soul of Manila, curled up in her own bed, crying. One misunderstood soul.
Armed with only Php 1,500, I flew to Manila in search of her soul while braving its chaos.
It was a good thing that my flight to Manila was not delayed. Because we were on a tight budget, Shane and I took the shuttle bus and dropped us near the LRT 1 EDSA Station. It was a Saturday thus the train was not that crowded. We stopped by at the United Nations station and walked a few hundred meters before reaching Luneta.
Luneta is big and I was relieved upon seeing those big trees lining the main entrance of the park. I also had the chance to tour the famous walled city of Intramuros. Seeing those guards wearing their old-fashioned uniform reminded me of my Sibika at Kultura (Civics and Culture) lessons back in grade school. I thought of its grandeur and the dark secrets of its past. Too bad I did not venture to the interior of the walled city; it was raining hard that time.
We stayed in a budget hotel (Friendly Guest House) located at Adriatico St., Malate, Manila. There are a lot of different accommodation options in Manila but we chose the dorm-type air-conditioned room for only Php 375, considering our budget. Shane and I were the only Filipinos inside the room. There were two Koreans, both teachers in Seoul and an American named Travis. They were here too to experience Manila like us.
Together with Shane and Tin, I continued my journey to the busy streets of Manila. The streets were filled with cars, trucks, buses and people. Because we got hungry, we settled on eating kwek-kwek, calamares, squid/fish ball and deep-fried isaw along the sidewalk near Universidad de Manila. I didn’t mind the sweat dripping from the forehead of the vendors nor the particulates coming from the emissions of the vehicles – all I ever cared was how it answered my gastronomic need during that time. At a minimum amount, I was already full.
From a syano’s viewpoint, I can say that Manila is a promising city. It used to be the model city of Southeast Asia from 50s to 70s. Despite the radical changes that occurred on this metropolis, people living here have already adapted to its ultra-fast lifestyle. People are already used with the limited spaces of the city. I surmise Manileños still love their beloved city despite the image portrayed by international media.
I really can’t compare Davao and Manila. It’s like comparing McDonalds and Jollibee! Both are fast-food chains and offer almost the same menu (of course with different names). Like the two fast-food chains, Davao has its own share of stories, as well as Manila. There are a number of reasons why Manileños love Davao and there are also few things why we Davaoeños love Manila.
If you take a closer look, Manila is still beautiful. Never mind the horrendous traffic, crowded places and stressful way of life – people are used to it, and I enjoyed the experience of commuting through the busy streets of Manila and mingling with the locals.
Manila is beyond my comfort zone but I’d still go back to this place and relive the experience. And oh, I’ll still continue searching the lost soul of Manila. Maybe she has more clues for me.
And the best thing that happened during my overnight trip in Manila? I survived with only Php 1,500 in my pocket. Terminal fees included.
This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for the month of August 2011 on the theme “Manila In Focus” hosted by Angel Juarez of Lakwatsero.