Manila was our last destination for the Philippines, and what a chaotic end to our journey!
From the air Manila sprawled across the horizon like any other city, with sprouts of modern skyscrapers in all directions. Metro Manila comprises of 16 cities with an overall population of just over 11 million people, and the traffic jams here are legendary in Asia. Experiencing Manila is like experiencing a whole new level of city living, and surprisingly it works.
It isn’t always about population, and it isn’t always about traffic. These are just part of any city life in the world. Why Manila and I didn’t get along, is that the ideal here seem to be a little off balanced.
All throughout the countryside, I had experienced the famous Filipino hospitality. Their smiles and offer of friendship accompanied us for ten days through Tagaytay, Cebu and Bohol. These are the people who had little, and mostly without high levels of education, yet they welcomed us into their little world and we had fun.
Manila on the other hand, had educated people with western ideals, had the sort of people that tourists ‘prefer’ to hangout with, yet, these were the people that disappointed me at the end of my Philippines journey.
The city just wasn’t genuine to its Filipino roots.
There is a part of Manila called Makati. Everyone I’ve met have told me to go to Makati, for the simple fact that it was the most modern part of the city and built to accommodate western ideals. Yes the streets were spotless clean, and the buildings posh; the people dressed well and spent well and there were premier shopping malls that sold all sort of luxury brands and services. However, it is also here, that people are likely to ignore you, taxi drivers are ruder and demand more fares from you, and any service provided to you is scaled on the amount of money you are willing to spend.
And I hate this. This is not the Philippines I got to love, and it seems that by building Makati, Manila hoped that it would be the only areas of the city foreigners see, hence producing a falsified idea about the city that is completely different beyond Makati’s boundaries.
So Will and I spent more time in the rest of Manila, exploring the real thing – through the narrow cobbled streets of Intramuros, through Rizal Park and strolled along Manila Bay, and haggled at the busy bazaars of Pasay.
While I still did enjoy my time in Manila, I just wish the city would be a little more honest with itself. By that time, perhaps we’ll get along more.