People/Local Culture, Manila
Favorite thing: When travelling to the Philippines you need to understand that a large percentage of the population live in extreme poverty and for every person that has a job they get paid very little compared to developed countries and they are usually supporting other family members.There are many worth while charities you can support or remembering to tip for service when visiting.You can also bring your quality second goods/items such as sunglasses, clothing, just about anything you can think of,as they are a welcome gift to local people.One way I showed gratitude to hotel staff was taking 5 of them to the aquarium in Manila.They told me it takes them a year to save the entrance fee so they were very grateful for the experience.Another example of helping someone was when I befriended a single mother from the hotel.She only saw her daughter once a year at Christmas time when she had saved enough money to travel to the countryside for a few days.She was living in a room in Manila with nothing and sleeping on pieces of cardboard.I gave her my old mobile phone and bought her another for $30 au so she could speak to her daughter everyday.I also gave her my old laptop to give to her daughter for her education.I bought her a inflatable mattress which cost me $30 au and gave her a small amount of cash for her direct flight to see her daughter.So for a small amount of money $100-$150 you can help change someones life.I found that helping someone was very rewarding and I would encourage people to help people that are less fortunate and it might just put a smile on your face!
I was most surprised to see this plaque at Rajah Sulayman Plaza just off of Roxas Boulevard in Malate. You will find this on the wall of the Dancing Fountain, facing the ocean. I think it was awarded it because it Manila was hosting the cultural minister's summit during this time.
Very interesting to read this report
You should be fine if you're with your friend. I'm sure he/she will be able to guide you properly.
With that being said, you can't be TOO careful. Always watch over your belongings, never leave ANYTHING unattended, and just be on your guard all the time.
I'm not sure Maps will be as helpful, but depending on what you want to do, there are pretty awesome guided tours in Manila that you can do.
I'd recommend seeing the beaches though. :)
Fondest memory: I miss the people mostly. Everyone is always so friendly and happy. I also miss the food, and what it feels like over there during the Christmas season.
Tipping is common in Manila, and anything above 10% will gain you undying loyalty if you are a foreigner and if you are a local, tipping 50 pesos and above will be the norm in classy restaurants and hotels.
Restaurants: Even if a service charge is included, custom dictates adding another 5%-10% to the
bill. But Most locals do not tip.
Porters: Service in top hotels is good and should be rewarded with 20 pesos per bag.
Taxis: Most cabs are metered, and rounding up to the next five pesos is a good rule of thumb.
Previously, someone said you needed to dress up - don't wear shorts and t-shirts. I respectfully disagree with that. During the day plenty people wear shorts. Maybe if you are going out for supper or out at night, you might want to wear something a bit nicer.
Most people recognize you are a foreigner/tourist and are too polite to stare.
Additionally, I always carry a ziploc bag of flushable baby wipes when I am there. They come in handy in the bathroom, disinfecting my hands or wiping my face. It can be a shock to use the bathroom facilities only to find there isn't any toilet paper!
I just joined this forum and hit upon your inquiry. I'm currently studying Mandarin in a small and modest school called Manila Language School located very near PGH along Taft. Before I went for MLS, I inquired from several language schools located in Makati and Ortigas (they have websites)-- and for the standard 30 hours, they charge more or less around P7-8k. (I don't know though when it comes to the embassies and universities like UP, which offer foreign language courses too). Admittedly, the fees are costly--and in MLS, they only charge around P3k+ for the same no. of hours with a very low student ratio of 1:4 or 5. If you go for a one-on-one tutorial, the school offers it at the lowest rate than the rest of the language schools, a price range of around P10k for 30hrs or, if there's just the 2 of you, you pay half price as your share. In my experience, I have no complaints with my Chinese teacher. Oh, and as she does her job in our class of 4, we can hear the French teacher in the other room do a 1-on-1 tutorial, and I think the French teacher is competent too-- since I think she knows what she's saying :P.
MLS has no website and relies mostly on word of mouth recommendations. Maybe the readers here can check it out should they intend to study an Asian or a European language: 5245937/09154393402.
Fondest memory: How 'alive' the malls are and that when you smile at the Filipinos--usually, they smile back :). I also like the general concept of the Filipino's faith in a Higher Power--and I love the Pinoy's sense of humor.
A typical Filipino meal consists of at least one viand (ulam in Tagalog) served with boiled or fried rice (kanin), which is eaten much like Westerners eat potatoes. Filipinos also regularly use spoons together with forks, as opposed to knives and forks in Western culture. They also eat with their hands, especially in informal settings and when eating seafood. Accompanying rice, popular dishes such as adobo (a meat stew made from either pork or chicken), lumpia (meat or vegetable rolls), pancit (noodle dish), and lechón (whole roasted pig) are served on plate.
Other popular cuisines or dish include: afritada, asado, chorizo sausages used in pancit or fried rice, empanadas, mais (corn), mani (roasted peanuts), paksiw (fish or pork, cooked in vinegar and water, some spices like garlic and pepper), pan de sal (salted bread rolls), pescado (fried or grilled fish), torta (omelette). Indigenous Filipino and regional cuisines include: dinuguan, kare-kare (ox-tail stew), kilawen, pinakbet (vegetable stew), pinapaitan, and sinigang (tamarind soup with a vareity of pork, fish or shrimp), balut (boiled egg with unfertilized duckling inside).
Popular snacks and deserts indulged are chicharon (deepfried pork or chicken skin), halo-halo (crushed ice with condensed milk, flan, and sliced tropical fruits), puto (little white rice cakes), bibingka (rice cake with butter or magarine and salted eggs), ensaymada (sweet roll with grated cheese on top), polvoron (shortbread), and tsokolate (chocolate) are eaten outside the three main meals. Local liquors such as lambanog, tuba, and basi are served on cup.
pls see my local customs tips for pictures of some of the filipino foods and sweets!
The Philippines has a tropical climate with relatively abundant rainfall and gentle winds. There are three pronounced seasons: the wet or rainy season from June to October; the cool or dry season from November to February; and the hot or dry season from March to May.
The Philippines is located just above the equator on the upper torrid zone of the globe. Thus, the country experiences an average temperature ranging from 24¢ª Celsius (about 75¢ª Fahrenheit) to 31¢ª Celsius (about 88¢ª Fahrenheit) and humidity varies from 70% to 85% depending on the time of year. The warm and humid climate all year round accounts for one of the healthiest tropical climates. There are two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The time of year for each season depends upon the local climate in each region. In Baguio, the ¡°summer capital¡± of the Philippines, temperature averages 18.3¢ª Celsius (or 65¢ª Fahrenheit). Nights all over the country are decidedly cold in the months of December and January.
The different parts of the country experience varied weather conditions because of the general air streams that cross the islands: the northeast monsoon that moves from north to east from October to January; the trade winds that come from the tropical high-pressure area of the Pacific from February to April; the southwest monsoon that originates from the tropical high-pressure area below the equator from May to September.
Typhoons may occur anytime of the year, but their peak of occurrence coincides with the rainy season. The number, path, and strength of typhoons differ each year. They are measured by signals according to strength and length. An average of 25 typhoons comes each year to different regions of the country.
Favorite thing: Filipinos value their self-esteem, which we inherited from our latin spaniard forebears so never criticize or argue with filipinos publicly. Most men, when so provoked, will fight for the preservation of their pride or self-esteem (Amor Propio), sometimes violently!
Favorite thing: Filipinos often use their eyes, lips, and hands to convey a wide range of messages. Raised eyebrows and a smile indicate a silent "hello" or a "yes" in answer to a question. Fixed eye contact between men is considered an aggressive gesture (you can get stabbed or gunned down). The proper method to summon somebody is with a downward wave then shout "boss" .
Favorite thing: As crowded as Manila is, it should be more so. No country exports more people to farther corners of the world then does the Philippines. Many of these people have university-level educations but can't find lucrative enough work in Manila so they seek menial, but better-paying employment elsewhere. Most work hard in service jobs (who hasn't seen Filipino waiters and bar workers in Asian cities?) or menial positions (unfairly, this gives Filipinos an underclass stigma in some peoples' eyes). But some also travel abroad as skilled labor and even engineers -- often to Persian Gulf countries where good employees are in short supply. In all cases, though, the money they send back to the Philippines is an important part of that nation's economy. And they almost all are supporting some family back home.
Go to INTRAMUROS, the Walled City, and see FORT SANTIAGO which contains the José Rizal Shrine. A five-minute stroll away is the the MANILA CATHEDRAL with its beautiful stained glass windows showing Filipino themes, and GENERAL LUNA STREET (toward Puerto Real gate) where the National Council on Culture and the Arts Museum and (further on) Silahis Arts & Artifacts store and the adjoining Ilustrado Cafe are located.
Fondest memory: Riding the JEEPNEYS, which are unique open-sided, public transport vehicles based upon the army jeep and carrying 10 - 14 people. Each is exuberantly decorated and carry such signs as (in translation): 'pretty girls sit in the front [next to the driver]; ugly ones, in the back,' or (in English) 'God is my copilot.' Payment (minimum fare is P7.50/US$ .14) involves passing your money from passenger to passenger until it reaches the driver. You tell him where you got on and where you want to get off. He makes change which is passed back to you. Understanding Tagalog is a help, although there is always someone who can speak some English. This is definitely getting among the folks.
One of the scariest things you can do on this planet is take a taxi ride in Manila. So it follows that one of the riskiest jobs anywhere would be to drive taxis in Manila -- especially that holding such a job must be contingent on averaging a certain number of traffic violations per minute! Therefore, it is not surprising that almost every taxi driver has a shrine on his dashboard. Most of them have Jesus and Mary, but if I were them that wouldn't be enough -- I'd have every possible diety I could think of from Jesus to Buddha to Pele to that Hindu god with 20 arms. Only then would you feel truly protected.
I am not exaggerating to say that we almost averaged two accidents per taxi trip. Our drivers went up one way roads the wrong way against gobs of traffic and jittneys, took lefts from the right hand lane, blew through red lights and even went airborne occassionally. All this while trying to get a commission for selling us on going to some strip bar. This was adventure tourism!
Everytime I saw one of these dasboard religious displays, I thought of the Rolling Stones song "The Girl with the Far Away Eyes" where Mick Jagger tells about the radio preacher who said "You know you always have the Lord by your Side" so he ran 20 red lights in his honor. In Manila, we ran more than 20 red lights!
Do you know what makes Manila? It's the people. I'm not a huge fan of Manila as a city as I generally find the traffic horrible. However, I took a wander down some of the side streets and had a great time. Of course basketball, the true religion there, was being played everywhere. I think that I got an offer to play at every game. They must know that white men can't jump!
It was funny how much attention that I got in some of the more run down areas. I guess not many foreigners walk down those paths. Every 15 seconds I got a, "Hey Joe!" One of the best moments was when a girl runs up to me, looks at my shoes, and says, "Hey man! I made your shoes!" Pretty funny.
Favorite thing: When in Manila, keep your own city's SIM card. If your phone is GSM-compatible, get a local prepaid SIM card from any of the three cellular phone operators - Globe, Smart, Sun - costing less than US$4. Calls through your new SIM card should be cheaper than when you use your home city's global roaming service - US$0.40/minute for IDD calls, and about US$0.15 for local calls. Catch is, calls are charged on a per-minute pulse rate basis, rather than the more equitable 6-second pulse rate in most cities around the world.