Saturday, 6 July 2013

Manila! Manila!

"Manila, Manila, I keep coming back to place in the world like Manila...Manila...I'm coming home." 

Yup, those lyrics from the Hotdog's popular song always come to mind every time I fly home.  Yes, Manila, I am coming home to stay. To stay for a few days, that is!

I remember when I was a kid on a summer vacation in Manila, we stayed at Inday Miniang’s apartment building at Arquiza Street in Ermita, right in the middle of Manila’s tourist belt. Then, it was so convenient moving around the area. Traffic  wasn’t that bad and the area was safer. I would go out late at night and crossed the street even in my pajamas with Manang Virgie to buy some snacks at a store along A. Mabini Street.  Inday Miniang’s heirs have sold her building since, and I haven’t visited that place again. 

 That so-called tourist belt area has deteriorated over the years, and I'm glad that the new mayor of Manila, Erap Estrada, and his vice mayor, Isko Moreno, have included resurrecting this area in their agenda. And with the appointment, as Manila’s tourism consultant, of the creative Carlos Celdran, whose interesting Intramuros tours I was able to join and enjoy two years ago, bringing back Manila and its tourist spots back to life is just a matter of time and of course, budget. 

 In a few months, I am flying back home and will definitely include a visit to the tourist belt as part of my itinerary. The last time I was home, my friends Diana and Marlu toured me and a few other friends around the underrated Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown. Years ago, when I was still working in Makati City, I’d visit Binondo once in a while to get my ma-chang (a yummy Chinese delicacy) fix every now and then.

But when I toured Binondo that day, I looked at it through the eyes (and palate!) of a tourist, and surprisingly, this unique place looked (and tasted!) more interesting and enjoyable. I had a different kind of fun that day, and I owe it to the people of Binondo to write about their town (blog to follow soon!). Our Chinese restaurant hopping, hopia and ma-chang shopping, Manila-from-top-of-a-building viewing (see photos for this blog), and spa pampering, all in less than a day should also be experienced by any local or international Binondo visitor. 

 For now, I will be able to write about Binondo. Perhaps, on my next visit home, I would be able to roam around the tourist belt, the Rizal Park and a few other interesting places nearby, and be able to write about them, too. 

 But in the meantime, Erap, Isko and Carlos need all our help in bringing back Manila to its former self and role as the country’s capital.          

 In the 1970s, when Hotdog wrote their hit song, Manila was unique and special. With all these promising plans to revive it, soon we will sing again their lyrics…”no place in the world like Manila…I'm coming home to stay”.

(P.S. Thanks to Diana for letting me stand on top of her building. Seeing Manila from up there was a special experience!)


  1. Great photos! Manila doesn't look polluted from your photos, contrary to what that always-controversial-magnet author have written. :)

    1. Thank you! This was taken on a Saturday, which may be a reason why there wasn't much pollution in the photos. I hope they clean up Manila this time.