My name is Cher. Born and raised in the Philippines. I am a traveler, a happiness wanderer.
Disclaimer: This should have been my entry for a Europe trip contest, I decided not to submit the article and decided to post it here.
The only way to revisit Manila is when a Balikbayan (your relative/ friend who migrated in a different country) comes back to the Philippines for a visit. I have been a regular driver for our balikbayans, there is my dad who a OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) in Qatar, my crazy cousin Robbyn from Los Angeles, my aunts from New York and some friends who are working from London and elsewhere. The first thing to do is to set their itinerary. Being the driver/ tour guide, I have to make sure their schedules would fit mine too.
This is one of my DA Shots of Manila while travelling to Singapore.
The first stop is the mall. One good thing in Manila there are tons of shopping malls. Officially it became a to-do-list for balikbayans or tourist to explore and conquer. There is a 3 is 3 rule that I make sure my guest should visit, the big 3, the retailers heaven and the neighborhood malls.
Shot while stuck in traffic in Binondo Manila
The big 3, Bonifacio Global City, Greenbelt and Mall of Asia. BGC is so big you might want to leave your espadrilles at home and use your tsinelas (flip-flops) or sandals. I actually like the environment here. You can walk your dog. Eat in a fancy restaurant. Drink some booze while watching the japorms of the people who passes by in Serendra. You can buy your expensive gadget, sports accessory or shoes. Then at night you can party at some bars or clubs near the area. In Greenbelt, the only thing I really do here is to dine or to watch a movie but since Newport Mall had become my new love in terms of dining, movie and leisure. GB is just a place where you bring your balikbayans so they can eat and shop at boutiques that they do have back in else where. And of course, Mall of Asia, I think most tourist made this a mall destination. Theres nothing fancy but surprisingly they made some changes. Like the big rides at the back more kids on their field trip.
And when I say retailers heaven, the first thing that pops in my mind would also Divisoria, Baclaran and Greenhills. Be warned though, not to bring any valuables at hand. But bring as much money because I can guarantee you your relatives will be super happy shopping the cheap merchandises. I know it sounds ironic. Women most of the time keep their money inside their bra/ brassiere. My aunt says it is safe. And you can get the barya/ sukli for every purchase they made 🙂
Philippine Kanto BBQ
In the Philippines, it is a fad to buy thing in retail. We have sarisari stores to defend that, you can buy your shampoo and conditioner in sachets to your sanitary napkins in singles. And the neighbor malls are the mushroom malls that keeps on sprouting everywhere in Manila, that is SM, Puregold and Starmall.
And there are things that a balikbayan would want to experience as well. Like drinking softdrink in plastic and straw, Eat fishballs and isaw, this are some, and a must to do for balikbayans, especially if you have younger cousins who never tried blowing the plastic balloon, they will surely love the experience.
Balikbayans are also into partying. I also have a list to where I can bring them. If they wanting the old chill, south side drinking. I can call my friends and buy some booze and have the best garage party at my house. If they want to go clubbing there is Republiq in Newport Mall, Opus which is just beside Republiq or Prive which is in Makati. And if they want to experience the real filipino partying style, I would just bring my guest to Aguirre in BF Paranaque where the locals come to drink whether its on a Monday or the weekend.
Goat from Calatagan, Batangas
If your balikbayan are dating or married to a foreigner and they are with them. It is always best to bring our guest to 3 special places. One would be Luneta, I just revisited it recently during the Chinese New Year. And it made me super happy. The fountains are great. They have a light show during the night which is very spectacular with the fireworks to cap the night. Your guest can stroll from Taft Avenue to the Quirino Grandstand. This is a definitely a must. Two, Boracay or Palawan is also part of the must. The Island of the Philippines is a gateway of awesome beaches and great
Revisiting Manila can be hard. Our lifestyle now is different from what our folks used to have. Treating your guest is tough as well. You have to squeeze in all the best spots depending on their taste in one or two weeks time. However the best way to experience the real deal to any travel is to think like a local. Experiencing what the locals do, where do they go, and why do they love their place. I have revisited Manila in countless times. And I wanna visit it again in the future.