Almost every decade, a new destination rattles the world of Manila-based beach chasers. In the 1950s, Matabungkay was put on the tourist map after two German travelers “rediscovered” it. In the 1970s, all roads led to Puerto Galera after UNESCO declared it a protected area. In the late 2000s, the hype was all about Anawangin, reborn 20 years after the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.
The search for the nearest it beach paradise doesn’t stop. We always need a go-to destination where we could forget about the constant jolts of the city — traffic, noise, air pollution. Who could blame us, really? The more people Metro Manila takes under her wing, the more we want to escape her claws. We love Manila, yes, but when it comes to beaches — let’s face it — she will break your heart (and poison you, if you swallowed enough). Sometimes, all we want to do is run away from her and have an affair. With nature, that is.
Being a full-time employee in Manila is no joke. Every single morning, stress (in the form of horrendous traffic) greets you even before you step into the office. Then you spend at least nine hours of your day working your butt off. You end the day enduring another hour or two stuck in a sea of cars. When you get home, you just collapse into your bed because you’re too tired to do anything else. The next day, you repeat the same routine all over again. No wonder we have an undying love for weekends.
But you know what we love more? Long weekends. When a non-working holiday falls just around a weekend, we know it means more time to relax, pamper ourselves, and do the things that we love. One of these: travel.
Walking is that one thing I have never given up. Whenever I travel, I always make it a point to take the long, scenic route on foot, especially that walking is the only form of exercise I get these days. Even when I’m not traveling, walking has been my therapy. Manila may not be the most walkable city on the planet, but there are a lot of things to see, find, and discover.
If you’re Manila-bound, here are tips for an enjoyable bounce around the city!
My dirty chucks looked awfully out of place on the carpeted floor of the suite. I removed them, threw my bag in a corner, and fell into the neatly fixed bed in the center of the room. I turned on the TV and tuned in to History Channel for a few minutes of geeking out before I headed back to the party in another suite.
Cemeteries are not exactly the type of destinations that tourists write on their bucket list, and it’s not hard to see why. It is that one place we most associate with death. After all, this is where the departed are laid to rest.
Most of us only find ourselves here when we pay respects to a loved one who has left us for good. Or when it’s All Souls’ Day, the time that we honor their memory. Otherwise, many do not see a reason compelling enough to push us out of our way to visit a graveyard. And truth be told, aside from the creeps they give, most cemeteries look alike.
But there are exceptions. Here are eight unusual burial grounds that are worth braving.
Travel like a local, they say. But if you’re going to do that in Manila, brace yourself. You’re in for quite a ride.
Taking public transportation within Metro Manila is unpredictable, to say the least. For first-timers, commuting around Manila requires a great deal of planning. You have ample of options — MRT, LRT, cab, bus, jeepney, tricycle — but none of them guarantee a hassle-free journey. Manila has so much to offer to tourists, but the problem is getting from one destination to another. The simple truth is, like many third world cities, Manila is congested, polluted, and highly disorganized. Except for outbound buses, none of these options work around a fixed, reliable schedule. Traffic has been the biggest problem. And the rain can make matters much worse.
Take a deep breath, hold your valuables tight, and prepare your soul to be squeezed out of your body! This is commuting, Manila-style.
They just didn’t take their time.
The local radio the driver was tuned in to had already played a dozen ballads, but the cab had barely inched forward. The traffic was glacial, and I was stuck in the middle of it all. While I struggled to keep my eye away from the running meter, I looked outside my window and got delightfully lost in the music. My fingers tapped to the slow beat of the Basil Valdez classic. Its sedating melody was sometimes interrupted by the unorthodox percussion coming from the outside — the gentle humming of the engine in the background and the brassy honks from the other vehicles on the road that seem to build up to a crescendo.
This is rush hour Manila. A Holywood actress once said in a magazine interview that she was “ghastly and weird.” An action film director once commented that she was “ugly and stinky.” A fictional character in a novel once baptized her “the gates of hell.” You may say that there’s truth to it, but they did not see enough. They did not stay long enough to see her good, charming side. Or maybe, they just did not take their time.
The rise of low-cost carriers had made this world a lot smaller and interesting destinations closer. The distant islands north and south have become easily accessible to Manila-dwellers, who are eager to escape the heat of the city to a paradise that can give them a relaxing and exciting affair with nature. (Or, in some cases, just an affair.) Flying is relatively cheap now. But with all the surcharges, taxes, terminal fees, and the cost of land or boat transfers, the trip that is opened at an airport can still be quite heavy on the pocket.
It’s easy to spot MNL Boutique Hostel. Amidst the grayness of that side of Makati, the hostel’s lower facade is painted fuschia and green, bright, garish and glaring. This front wall, in sync with their theme of fiesta neon colors, is hard to miss. Before it are tables and chairs set on the adjacent pavement, where some guests choose to gather and share conversations about their trips, before and after this stop. One night in January, I was one of those guests.
If you’ve flown out of the country before, then you’re probably familiar with the whole pre-flight thingamajig. But if it’s your first time, read on as I discuss in detail the whole check-in and boarding processes so you could breeze through them.
One of the biggest mistakes that you will make if you’re flying to any other foreign destination is to assume that everything would go well exactly like how it does with domestic flights. Many travelers who have flown domestically before make that mistake and it results in stress caused by trying to beat the time and sometimes missing the flight altogether.