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.
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