Friday, September 30, 2011

Postcards from Manila...Malate

Transitioning from Makati to Malate wasn’t easy. For 2 days you are a part of the chaos the city is, but yet sheltered from it spending days in air conditioned conference rooms and within the walls of a 5-star the hotel.
Malate, a friend told me was the ‘party area’. The first sight of Malate was of narrow streets, ablaze with neon lights, buildings and shanties mixing into one another, and of course a general sense of chaos with both traffic and throngs of people. Each neon light advertises a place to eat or drink or both and every second place is a karaoke bar (the Filipinos love their karaoke)– although, some places leave you wondering what else is on offer. Boys with punk hairstyles and piercing, calling me in with a click of their tongue was not at all reassuring. Arriving at night threw me off balance I confess, and (in a very lame way) the Starbucks outside my pension was reassuring. The scene wasn’t very different from others I have see.. it, could have been Pali market of Mumbai famous for Hawaian shack or Toto’s, or even Goa close to Baga beach, and I wondered if this unsure was how outsiders felt with their first visit to India.. Next night I was more prepared and found myself having a nice evening in Café Havana. And also, the boys were simply ‘marketing’ the food places and didn’t really mean harm.

Malate used to be a red light area in the past and now is yes, one of the party hangouts in Manila. It also offers cheap accommodation for backpackers – all listed in lonely planet.

At Malate

Streets of Malate

Cafe Havana

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Simple evenings

can be such a pleasure, with just a brilliant breeze, beautiful lights lighting up the night landscape. Kite flying festival at the Marina Bay boardwalk... families come to try their hand at kite flying, couples taking a lazy stroll, friends hanging out... hardly too many kites, but the mood was light, conversation good...

At the board walk

Kites in the air

Battling the breeze

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Postcards from Manila...Pearl of the Orient

There are some cities that make you feel warm and fuzzy when you return back to them after a long gap – and until I landed and was whizzing past familiar roads and buildings I didn’t realize Manila was one of those cities for me. I was just here on works, but loved the familiarity with both the people I was to be meeting and also the city.

From above, the city is beautiful. We pass over brown water off the coast, fish pens laid out in geometrical patterns like a Mondrian viewed by someone colour blind. Over the bay, the sunset is starting, the famous sunset, like none anywhere else. Skeptics attribute its color to pollution. Over there’s the land, the great gray sprawl of eleven million people living on top of each other on barely more than 240 square miles – fourteen cities and three municipalities, sky scrapers and shanties, tumbling beyond kilometer zero, and the heart of every Filipino, the city that gave the metro its name: Manila.

Modern Manila. She who was once the Pear of the Orient is now a dowager…She, the trusting daughter of the East and the West, lay down and was destroyed, her beauty carper-bombed by her liberators, cautious of their own casualties, her ravishment making her kindred to Hiroshima, Stalingrad and Warsaw. And yet, from air, you think her peaceful and unflustered. On the ground is a place tangled with good intentions and a tyrannical will to live…. Five hundred years ago, Spanish conquistadors sailed their wooden ship into the world’s most perfect harbor to begin their mission…. Manila has changed much since. It’s changed so little. If you know where to look, this is the most exciting city in the world.

-An extract from the Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco

PS: Didn't know what the square grids on the water when seen from above was, now I do!

A rainy September day in Manila

The EDSA, one of the highways criss crossing the city

The famous jeepneys in the city

Makati - the business district at night