Thursday, June 01, 2006

Manila - Land of the ????

I’ve just returned from Manila, the Philippines and I shall not return again. (Only smart people can make sense of the preceeding sentence!)

Yes, I spent 5 days, 4 nights in Manila, first in Simpaloc, then in the Ermita. Simpaloc is rather out of the happening radius so after spending our first night there in a prebooked room, the 4 adventurous girls moved to Stone House Ermita. It cost us RM17.00 each. I shan’t bore you with the details of the rooms but needless to say the 4 girls decided, “Heck! We’re managers – we can afford to pay more than RM17 for a nice room and so off we trudged…..yet again….in search of a RM50 room.

We found this in the CityState Hotel which seems to be a hub for ‘strangers in the night passing each other blowing horns and letting off steam’. Hahaahahhaaaa. Seems like lots of mat sallehs like having 2 Filipinas with them to eat breakfast.

Things I have done in the Philippines:

1. Visited world’s smallest active volcano – Taal Volcano located in Taal Lake.
2. Drove around Tagaytay (where Taal is located) approximately 2 hours looking for Leyla Restaurant where our packaged lunch is.
3. Shopped in Divisoria Market where 168 Shopping Mall is.
4. Changed accommodation 3 times in Manila itself.
5. Rode in a taxi, bus, jeepney (think long tut-tut) and tricycle
6. Got cheated by vehicle (taxi and jeepney) operators in our routes to hotels and airport.
7. Shopped in a souvenir shop called Tesoro near the CityState Hotel.
8. Had somebody tell me I was beautiful in Tagalog.
9. Had a bell boy look at me like I was in one of those perfume ads (where the guy tries hard to continue to stay and look and smile while a friend tries to pull him away)
10. Had almost everyone in Manila start speaking to me in Tagalog (my standard answer is: “No Tagalog”).
11. Changed USD to more pesos.
12. Ridden horseback up a mountain in a cut in sleeveless tank.
13. Get tan lines
14. Ruined my hair in the Hard Water.

Things I have not done in the Philippines:

1. Eaten Balut.
2. Visited Intramuros, Rizal Park, Cathedrals, Churches….
3. Lived the good life.
4. Experienced the night life.
5. Visit Boracay Beach.
6. Visit Casino Filipina.

Guess it looks like a pretty worthwhile trip huh? But still I wouldn’t go back. I don’t mean to sound arrogant or elitist or anything like that but it was poor, dirty and even scary at times.

· Woman and 2 children sleeping in a tricycle by the wayside reeking of urine. The children are clothed but have no shoes and are asleep in that half closed eye manner that a lot of lost children have.
· Men, women and children living/sleeping at railroad tracks near Divisoria Market.
· Men huddled around a couple of fried fishes in the dark eating rice with their hands.
· Teenage boy coming up to you and following you aways to beg for the food you ‘ta-pau-ed’, ‘bungkus-ed’, packed from dinner.

· Woman and 2 children sleeping in a tricycle by the wayside reeking of urine.
· The unrelenting heat and sun making you sweat gallons. I FELT DIRTY AND STICKY so much of the time that I will always associate that with Manila.
· Open jeepneys and low-slung tricycles expose you and your skin to the air, smoke, dust, grime and god knows what else (trying very hard to not sound like a skincare ad but……)

· Teenage boy coming up to you and following you aways to beg for the food you ‘ta-pau-ed’, ‘bungkus-ed’, packed from dinner.
· Men on the street calling you their girlfriend and/or sister.
· Getting lost among the market stalls in Divisoria and not knowing where is North, South, East and West, the Main Road, Taxi Land…….and having a million tricycle men telling you they can get you to wherever you need to go.
· Hand carrying 2 huge plastic bags of shopping and not knowing where your hotel is.
· Running out of money for shopping.
· Phillipine Idols auditioning everywhere – I MEAN everywhere – the market corner, the road side, eating places…….people just singing at the top of their baddish voices – I mean there aren’t too many Lea Salongas there from what I heard!

Manila reminded me of Old Delhi, electric cables abound, all tangled and exposed. Some parts of Metro Manila look war-torn, pillars half-broken off and jeeneys fighting for space on the roads. However, the good thing is that in spite of the jams and spewing black smoke, nobody curses or yells or shouts at another driver. It’s either that they’re so used to the situation already or they really are the HAPPY people they are claimed to be. It seems (from a native Filipino’s mouth) that they’ve gone through so much, poverty, political instability and etc. that nothing seems as bad as it may look.

By they way, Filipino definition of:
Butterfly – GROs who flit from man to man.
C*ck – no definition here but they have keychains shaped like the male appendage, ashtrays with it sticking right up in various sizes and god only knows what else. I never did find out the fascination with C*cks though.

…… :)

So....what is Manila the land of?


Anonymous said...

So..what is Manila, the land of? Well..a land of reality, a land where you can see the faces of pain and glorious life..a land where men are desperately trying to survive in the midst of political intrigues, poverty and hardships this life offers. A land
where there is and will always be a lips to smile and a reason to be happy.
POOR..yes it is, Manila as you defined it. Poor that it scarce in every aspect of material things, poor that it cannot provide shelter for those family living and sleeping near the railroads, on the street…Poor as it is. But the smile in their faces, the laughter they share despite the grumbling stomach. Poor indeed, right. But in this poor situation we find the richness that only few understand.
Manila is scary? Scary only for those who are ignorant, and pretending to be know-nothing-at-all. Streets all over the world doesn't always give you security and safety and Manila is not an exemption.
"Hand carrying 2 huge plastic bags of shopping and not knowing where your hotel is.
. Manila is not to be blame for that, I think
"Phillipine Idols auditioning everywhere – I MEAN everywhere" I don't know why it scares you? Are you ok?

Errolyn said...

Anonymous: Read again and see what else was written. It's always best to take a step back and understand before lashing out.

If everybody did that, we would have world peace.

But sometimes we have to be realistic; there will always be people who like and dislike a thing, a place, a person etc. That's the harsh reality of life and it would do us better to recognise that fact.

Anonymous said...

I'm a filipino and i agree with errolyn re the condition of manila. However, you have not seen the rest of manila,philippines. And i suggest that you visit again. You just need a good guide. I'm happy to assist you.