10 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MANILA
So we have had the 10 things that I hate about Manila, but it is not all doom and gloom. Here are the ten things that I absolutely love about this city.
1. The People
By far the people are the number one reason I love Manila. Almost everybody is friendly and will try to help wherever possible, and it is genuine. There is a great sense of community here and everybody looks out for one another. The Filipino personality is caring and honest and will most often give you a warm smile.
2. The Cost Of Living
Manila is an extremely cheap city to live in by western standards. A bottle of beer is 50 cents, a pack of 25 cigarettes cost 90 cents and rent is about $300 a month, a quarter of what I was paying in Sydney. I can catch the train across the city and it only costs 25 cents. Of course you can spend as much or as little as you want here, but I have been living here for a year like a local and it is quite easy to live quite frugally.
3. The Resourcefulness of People
As poverty is wide spread in Manila you often see people recycling or making something themselves. There are people that sift through rubbish bins and pull out anything that may be of value like plastic bottles, wood or old fan motors. Handmade chairs, tables and carts are quite commonly made from recycled wood. One of my favourites is the side carts welded to BMX bikes that can act as anything from water carriers to mobile clothes racks. Things I would throw away in Australia and buy a new one are put to good use here.
Collecting plastic bottles for recycling
4. The Public Transport
Once you get the hang of it the public transport system is quite easy to negotiate. Often a trip will involve a variety of different modes, all quite cheap, to get you to your destination. The price of travel and the frequency of vehicles make it a reliable and cost effective way to get around.
5. English Speaking
Almost everybody speaks English as it is taught in schools. I only know a few words of the local language, Tagalog and I have never had much trouble conversing with Filipinos. My Australian accent is sometimes hard for them to understand, but unlike some other countries in the region, I don’t get a blank stare back when I speak English.
6. The Malls
Manila has some of the finest and largest malls around. It makes living in Manila quite comfortable when you know you can go to the mall and watch a movie, go to a food court or go shopping in a department store. It’s handy to get out of the heat sometimes as well. Of course they differ slightly from back home and have some quite interesting shops, like an old fashioned barber shop where you can get a haircut and a cut throat razor shave for a couple of dollars. You can even play bingo or get an ultrasound if you desire.
7. The Food
Rice is a staple in many asian countries with Manila being no different. If you get a value meal at KFC it comes with rice instead of fries. There is also a gamut of other delicious foods on offer to make those taste buds come alive. Street food can be some of the best around. Some of the common delicacies include Siomai, a dumpling type of food, Sinigang, a sour broth made with Tamarind, meat and leafy vegetables. However, my favourite is chicken Adobo, which uses a combination of vinegar and soy sauce to flavour the meat.
Somai - A local dumpling type of food
8. The Weather
I enjoy nice sunny weather so Manila is great for me. The weather is usually in the high twenties to mid-thirties year round. There is a rainy season when it rains a lot and the odd typhoon whips in, but it is very rarely cold. I have not had to wear my jacket in Manila in the 12 months I have been here and shorts and flip flops are the usual.
9. A city rich in History
There is a rich sense of history in Manila. Modern Manila was settled by the Spanish in the 1600’s and while many buildings were demolished during WWII, there are still some to be seen in the Intramuros area, home to Fort Santiago, a 400 year old defensive structure. I have enjoyed walking around looking at old cannons and dungeons on more than one occassion.
Intramurous - The walled city of old Manila
10. The Location
A group of tropical islands with a warm, temperate climate. There are also many cheap airlines here, like Cebu Pacific or Tiger. They can whisk you away to one of the many beautiful beaches of the Philippines in about an hour. There are many flights to neighbouring international cities that are extremely cheap and take only two or three hours. Bangkok, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur; are all very easy to get to and I have seen tickets to these places for less than $100 from Manila.