People/Local Culture, Manila
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.
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!
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.
Along Roxas Blvd. there are now restaurants and cabanas and swings where people can sit around and wait for the sunset or hang out after a morning jog.
This pic was taken on my way to the airport to go home to Bacolod one Sunday morning during the monsoon season.
It's a great place to spend time with the family after mass at the Malate Church across the street or you can take a stroll after lunch at the Aristocrat.
The area can have very busy traffic during the week because Roxas Blvd. is a main thoroughfare and the US Embassy and many hotels are along this road but take advantage of quiet Sundays, early mornings, and beautiful sunsets.
The simple things make Filipinos happy.
Rainy days don't mean no fun. Kids happily play together, some guys are fishing, others sit on the benches with their umbrellas...
All these...for free...
Favorite thing: A public fireworks display is now traditional every June 12 - Philippine Independence Day. There are two venues - one at The Fort, just across EDSA from Makati, and the other one at the Manila Bay breakwater. I chose the Fort this year.
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.
Fondest memory: Pasig river is flowing just in the heart of Manila connecting Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay then out to China sea. Some people called these 'dying river' due to flooded garbage in the past years and polluted water. However, the Philippine government have a strong project and campaign for these river since the past few years to clean up the water and whole area.
Capital of the Philippines and home to 12 million people, Manila is a massive modern city, which plays host to just about all the attraction you’d expect to find in a major metropolis. Not only is it a highly cultured town with a varied program of events, including opera, ballet, concerts and recitals by local and foreign artists, but its various theatres also offer English and Tagalog plays, dances and musicals. In fact music is the main form of entertainment in Manila and some unusual groups can be seen, such as the Pangwat Kawayan bamboo orchestra and the Rondalla group. But there is much more than music. Manila is a paradise for those who like to shop. If quiet away from the town, then remember that the Philippines have the world’s longest coastline and are rich in superb beaches.
Metro Manila, the country's business, trade, industrial and government center, sits in the heart of Luzon. Manila, the nation's premier city of 12 million residents, is as urban, teeming and raucous as any major city in the world.
Fondest memory: walking around... enjoying the chaos and noise and all the little dramas played out on the crowded streets. little children are devils, the street vendors always have stories to tell. there is a way of taking in the ugliness of everything and finding it beautiful. silence and order are horrible in their own way, you know? walking through the dark and dingy markets with lightbulbs swinging, buying food from the street stalls...
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.
well its been a while since i was there but i would take my mates to the firehouse bar, if its still there.
Fondest memory: my first trip. it was like i had landed in another world.The nightlife was just amazing,and thats what i miss the most.
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!
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!