Like how you think a big city in the country would be – noisy, crowded and polluted – Manila is all of them. But what makes Manila the “undesirable place” can also be a reason of why many people still want to stay and live in this metropolis.

What’s so lovable about Manila and why I am here?

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Manila on the last 2010 population survey is housing 11M people which is 11% of the entire Philippine’s population – that’s a lot to contain. Along with this bursting number is so much of the nuisances from the environment.

On your side are the rushing people going to the train stations and at a distant is the long pile of impatient cars at EDSA. Trash and beggars are common sightings along the sidewalks. Thieves are lurking at corners. The poor settled to the most dangerous places you could imagine – alongside rivers and inside cemeteries. Weather is extreme at times and dark is oftentimes not safe. That is Manila – the part that scares.

The city at a first glance is probably not your choice of place – it was once not mine too. But I’ve discovered a charm behind the crowded streets and black suffocating smoke as I prolonged my stay. And the decision to live here for awhile starts to get in.

Join me as I get you around the best things about Manila and why its worthy of a visit or maybe a permanent STAY.

1. The Foods

Manila Foods

What do you wish for your food? Or simply what food do you love? Manila has them all. From the most flavored Italian dish to exotic Thai soup – Manila has plenty to serve for you. Explore Manila corners from the most established resto to the busiest turo-turo for 500php – you’ll love both the experience and the full tummy.

Manila Foods

Eat-All-You-Can restaurants serving all different local and foreign dishes are all over Manila. You can try them for as low as 350php – 1,000php. Bistro and coffee shops are not out of place with their growing number inside malls and hotels.

2. Entertainment and Parks

  • Smart Araneta Coliseum

Manila hosts several foreign and local concerts each year. The Smart Araneta Coliseum is the most popular concert arena of famous performers including Westlife.

Westlife Live in Manila

YES it was Westlife and I was there to see them perform last September 2011. It was the band’s last concert – and it was a “HAPPY me” for not missing it. Manila has also opened me up to comedy bars but not to drinking and stripping bars. *I wonder about that sometimes.

  • Manila Ocean Park

Manila Ocean Park is another beautiful attraction to see in the city. It is a walk-in sanctuary to over 1,000 marine species. Visit Manila Ocean Park Official Website to view their exciting attractions, tickets and promos.

Ocean Park - Manila

  • Mall of Asia

Or known as MOA is a huge shopping mall and has been a popular spot for dining, shopping and all other pleasures.

Mall of Asia

The bay area gets even more alive at night with entertainers on different corners. I took the chance to join these 2 lovely men on their efforts to entertain the crowd. *Dili ni libre – at least drop them coins or bill.

MOA invites extra attention every February for hosting the annual Pyromusical Show – a competition of fireworks display joined by various countries including Finland, Australia, China and United Kingdom. For schedules and tickets, you may inquire HERE.

4. History

Everyone must have heard of Rizal’s writings Noli Me Tangere and My Last Farewell. The first draft to one of these books is in Fort Santiago – sealed tightly in a glass for public display along with some of his personal belongings including his suits, oil lamp and pens. Visit Fort Santiago at Santa Clara St – P65 entrance fee.

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Old Manila – the center of Philippines most famous universities and fortresses offers various sights that can either warm you up or give you dismay. Personally, I am not too happy to see Intramuros crowded with illegal settlers.

I was delighted by “Manong Kalesa” when his wave greeted me – I would sure love to experience a ride on his humble kalesa.

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A jeep ride away from Intramuros is the famous Manila landmark – Luneta Park. Families gather at night in this park to watch the fountain show. It would be fun to bring your loved ones here and have a share of crackers as the water and lights sway in front of you.

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The fountain show starts at around 7:00PM. Be sure to be there before the crowd gets you.

5. Churches

I thought of Bohol to be the only home of beautiful old churches but my last Visita Iglesia proved that Manila has churches with comparable beauty too.

Quaipo

This famous Quaipo Church at Quezon Boulevard keeps the sacred Black Nazarene. Its said that this statue was made by an anonymous Mexican sculptor and the image arrived in Manila via galleon from Acapulco, Mexico around 1600s.

*We were restricted from taking photos of the Black Nazarene inside the church.

Binondo Church

So here’s the famous Binondo Church. The contrast of the church’s faded surface to the rest of the buildings sets beauty to the tight place. I hope Binondo continues to live on.

6. People

One thing is sure – Manila is full of people.

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And if you like the idea of being around with so much crowd then this place is for you. *The more the merrier!

The city is almost everyday busy. You see people on their suits running their way to work. You see a mother bathing his dirty son alongside the road. You see mornings are for beers and cigarettes to some big old men. You see that evenings are for young ladies to party. You see that rains are for naked street children and their wooden toys. You see them and they either give you joy or tear your heart.

Personal Unfortunate Experience:

March 15, 2014 – Pasig Palengke: I just got my earrings pulled by someone from behind while walking towards the taxi. Its my first unfortunate encounter of the danger that people have been telling me about Manila. Its real and its true!

Lesson: don’t invite the bad guys with your dirty fancy earrings. *Kuya, imu nalang unta to gipangayo sa akua – imu pajud gidagan na dili man tawun to ma-prenda.

To my earrings: I will miss you – please take care. Thank you for your service. * the sad part

7. Inspiration

One great thing of being inside this big city is having the close chances of meeting the people you admire.

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Manila opened up the door for me to meet my most favorite travel blogger – Sabrina Iovino of Just One Way Ticket.

Sabrina is someone you would be glad to meet. She never allows her fame get into her head. She’s always ready for good conversations. She shares what she knows and not doubt it. She is beautiful and got good humor – she is never boring. She is brave to stand for our country (her posts talk mainly about the good things she experienced in the Philippines). I could brag about Sabrina all my life and it wont stop – this adventurous lady is simply amazing.

Be one with Sabrina as she explores the Philippines and the world. Follow Just One Way Ticket or feel good to see Boracay HERE – one of her famous posts.

8. Buildings

The top locations of high structures in the country are in Makati, Ortigas and Global City – all in Manila.

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Makati – the business center of the country has a couple of them that are well-maintained. Most of the buildings in the area are transformed to be either a shopping center, condominium or office. PBCom Tower – an office skyscraper ranked officially as the tallest building in the Philippines since 2000 is in Makati. The 259m tower is composed of 55 floors.

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9. Cars

The busy streets of Manila are not only for jeepneys and buses. Expensive Porsche, Camaro and glittering Lamborghini also own a good share of space around the town.

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This car caught my attention with its perfect finish and color as we passed Ayala Triangle. I thought of “Bumbble Bee” with the “yellow” that is so sexy and stylish. On some days, you could see these kinds of pretty cars running in town and you would think of the day to when you can have one too.

The Faces of Friends

Manila makes me enjoy the company of my long-time close friends. The bond gets a lot better and happier with the activities and celebrations we share every time.

MOA

To notice, I have the same set of pretty friends since in Iligan and Manila is doing a good job in taking care of us.

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I love how these friends can bring me closer to home – not a single time that I feel alone with them.

Pamela Jane Ocol Friends
Pamela Jane Ocol Friends

I am currently in Ortigas and working home as a freelance writer and VA. My time is mostly tied up to work but I have them to pull me away from this serious relationship I have with my computer. HA!

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And bring me outdoors for some fun.

Pamela Jane Ocol Friends
Pamela Jane Ocol Friends

Who would ever want to leave Manila when almost all my closest friends are here?

The Phases of Manila

Sure there’s still a lot more I have to know about Manila. I haven’t explored it fully but here’s to give a quick view on how it gets through the day!

1. 8:00AM

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2. 4:00PM

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3. 6:00PM

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It’s a tough but wonderful city. The vast opportunities to expand your career and networks are here. To know and be close to the country’s most influential people and learn about modern lifestyle is greater here. But Manila is also the big place of what this nation should still work on – the bigger place that reflects what this country is still lacking of.

And if you are to visit Manila anytime soon, be sure to set yourself ready for the good and the worse.

I have been prepared for the good – not yet for the worse.

Resorts World Manila - Pasay, December 2011
Manila, December 2011

Note: Manila has fired up my passion to travel. This place has powered me to explore.

Thank you Manila and with that I love you the most.

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