“Come visit me in Manila.”
“I heard it’s not safe there. I’d go directly to the islands and won’t even spend a day in that city.”
“Why not give it a try, maybe a day or two? Or over the weekends?”
“NAHHHH. Let’s go to the beach instead.”
Whenever tourists hear “MANILA”, things that would come into their minds are traffic, unsafe and execution. It saddens me that most people would see the negativity rumors and news are spreading, instead of experiencing the place and seeing it for themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand when you don’t feel safe staying in Manila cos there are times when I don’t either. However, it’s relatively safe in the city, similar to the neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. Just be aware of your surroundings, like how you should be when traveling. I mean, even the safest place has its own dark spot, right? Manila isn’t as bad as you think it is. We, Filipinos, are hospitable. We are warm and we don’t harm.
So what can you actually see in Manila? What can you do with the hassle of traffic? Allow me take you to a virtual tour that would give you a glimpse of not just the current situation in the city but also about our history.
Do you know that Spaniards and Chinese people have a huge impact in our culture? Spaniards have colonized us way back in the old era and there was a mass migration of Chinese in the Philippines which have left some mannerisms that Filipinos have adopted. Even our main dialect and last names sound so Spanish. Most of our food like Pancit (fried noodles) and Lumpia (fried spring rolls) are very Chinese. These alone shows how the Spanish and Chinese have influenced us. But of course, we still remained to have our own taste and style.
PLACES TO VISIT IN MANILA
1. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES, where you’d see the work of our local artists. There are also paintings that tell deep stories of the Philippines’ history. My favorite part of the museum is probably the SPOLIARIUM (often misspelled as spolarium), made by a Filipino artist Juan Luna. This painting was said to be submitted in a exhibition held in Madrid. The painting can be found near the entrance of the museum.
The museum has no entrance fee now and is open to all. The whole building is air-conditioned so if you feel kinda artsy but the weather is hot at the same time, this would be a good idea.
Things to remember:
-They have an allowable dimension for bags that you can carry inside, backpacks and shoulder bags would need to be left at the baggage counter.
-No taking of videos.
-No wacky poses.
-No copying of poses of the statues/paintings.
2. INTRAMUROS, a 64 hectares old district known to be the “walled city”. Intramuros is one of the places that would show the Spanish colonization in the country. It is one of the spots that has retained the Spanish era through the structures and walls built within the area.
*Fort Santiago has a entrance fee of 75pesos.
3. ESCOLTA, we were roaming around for a photo walk when we stumbled into this place in the street of Escolta. A place where you will find cool stuff, like clothes and bags. It is also the same place where I found my stainless straw. There’s also a cozy cafe inside if you wanna have a snack or maybe a doze of caffeine.
4. BINONDO (China Town), if you are in search of a good Chinese cuisine within Manila, binondo is the place to be. You’d really feel like roaming somewhere in China while walking in the streets of Binondo because of the Chinese stores and restaurants situated in the area. According to my Filipino-Chinese friends, this is where most of the Chinese migrants have lived or started when they came to the Philippines. Chinese migrated to the country mostly because of trading.
WHERE TO EAT IN BINONDO:
There are actually a lot of food to try in Binondo, LIKE A LOT!!! Believe me, there was a time when I go to there every weekend just so I can try every Chinese restaurants. So, here’s my top 5 must try in Manila’s China Town, Binondo. Cheap, big serving, and super appetizing!
1. WAI YING – this is probably my favorite restaurant because of their Milk Tea. We had Roasted pecking duck, Raddish cake, Hakaw, Kuchai dumplings and of course the milk tea.
Roasted duck rice – 200 pesos
Raddish cake – 75 pesos
Hakaw – 90 pesos
Kuchai dumplings – 75 pesos
Milk tea – 50 pesos
2. TASTY DUMPLINGS – the tastiest pork chop I have ever had! The pork was deep fried with breading but the pork inside was super juicy and tasty. We also tried their pork dumplings which tasted delish.
Pork chop rice -125 pesos
Fried dumplings – 99 pesos
3. DONG BEI DUMPLINGS – they were only serving dumplings when we visited. We tried the Kuchai dumplings which has pork mixed with some veggies, and it is so flavorful.
Dong Bei dumplings – 120 pesos (14pcs)
4. Sincerity Chicken – their chicken is sincerely insane! It was fried perfectly with its golden brown color. We also tried their Fried Oyster cake which I highly recommend.
Sincerity fried chicken – 160 pesos (half)
Fried oyster cake – 200 pesos
5. SHANGHAI FRIED SIOPAO – freshly cooked, flavorful and cheap. The fried siopao is a good snack when you still can’t decide which restaurants to try, but let me warn you that “one bun is not enough”, order two right away, it taste so good you’d ask for more.
Fried Siopao – 20 pesos
I know this doesn’t sum up all the things that you can see in the metro but it’s probably a good place to visit. And the food – aahhh!!!