Lelania Van De Berg is an ex-pat who moved to the Philippines last summer with her husband of twenty-one years, and daughter. After living abroad for over 15 years, she knows a thing or two about discovering the pulse of a city. Here are her favorite insider experiences to Metro Manila:
1. Fresh Buco Juice
When you have a juice of choice, of course it should be a fresh, split open coconut (with a straw). It is a delicious drink on a hot day.
2. Election Posters
Even though elections are over, I really enjoyed observing the political posters hanging up anywhere and everywhere in Manila. They adorned windows in houses, billboards, the sides of jeepneys, on top of tricycles, and they would COVER small side streets. You can still see them around, just not as abundant, even though elections have ended.
3. The Singing Cooks & Waiters Restaurant
It was silly, it was camp, and it was kitsch, but seeing the smile on my daughter’s face every time the staff would start a song and dance was priceless. Her two good friends went with her, making it more fun. She absolutely loved singing and dancing along with the waitresses, the waiters, and even the chef would get involved. Ongpauco Bldg., Roxas Blvd near corner Sen Gil Puyat Avenue,
Manila, Philippines; www.singingcooksandwaiters.com
5. M3H3 Makati Metro Manila Hash House Harriers
This group organizes bi-monthly runs through parks and neighborhoods around the area. We only did the walk, but it was truly a blast getting to go down the narrow alleyways and see the “real Manila.” sites.google.com/site/makatimanilahashhouseharriers
8. Bangs Prime Salon
I can go get a wash and style for less than 500p (less than $10) at anytime of the day and not wait! My friend got her haircut, washed and styled for the same price! It’s nice to be pampered every now and then. Multiple locations; bangs.com.ph
Photo by Francisco Daum
6. Corregidor Island
This island is a little over an hour away by boat from Manila. This base during World War II played an important role in the Pacific theater. Corregidor island is where the U.S. surrendered to Japanese forces. By the way, this was the first time I ever had sea sickness…not a good feeling. www.corregidorisland.com
4. The Microbrew Beers
There are quite a few microbrews in the Philippines, but one of my favorites in Manila is The Brewery at The Palace. Their double IPA is outstanding! 10th Avenue corner 38th Street Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, 10th Ave, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines; www.facebook.com/TheBreweryAtThePalace
9. BLK 513
This is a Greek frozen yogurt shop that has activated charcoal added to the end product. It is absolutely delicious and their cold matcha skim is creamy and not sweet (considering I’m not big on sweets, this is great all around). They use local fruits and toppings that can be added as well. 2/F SM Megamall Bldg A., Mandaluyong, Philippines; www.facebook.com/blk513ph
These unique beasts are individualized by each driver. They originated from Jeeps leftover from World War II and they grew into limousine-Munster-esque vehicles that people use as inexpensive public transportation. They truly are amazing to see.
10. The Variety of Asian Cuisine
One day it is Indonesian, another day it is Japanese, today it is Korean. I love that I can have all of these choices without leaving Metro Manila.
Best. Dim. Sum. Anywhere. Plus, tons of vegetarian options. Soups, steamed, fried, baked – any type of dim sum you have seen or ever heard of. My favorite type is the greens (kang kong, bok choy, and the kai lan), absolutely delicious. G/F Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City; http://dintaifungph.com/
12. A Boodle Feast
A boodle feast (or boodle “fight” as it was popularized by the military) is a traditional Filipino meal served on a large banana leaf and it is shared by everyone at the table. The one I had consisted of crab and corn soup, lumpia, pork and garlic rice, tofu and mushrooms, pancit, fried chicken and prawn crackers.
TRYING FILIPINO SNACK FOOD
13. Baskets, baskets, BASKETS
Every shape, every style, every size. Some made from banana leaf, some made from cane, some made from palm and I even found one made from magazines. They range in price from a few pesos to several hundred pesos and they’re all affordable.
Photo by Roslyn Y. Rosalia
14. The “ber” months
Starting in September and through the following months ending in “ber,” the stores are decorated for Christmas, playing songs non-stop in bathrooms, restaurants, and malls, and preparing for the gift giving season. This is just a small sampling of the decor here in Manila.
You can find Catholic icons everywhere you look. On the front of houses, shops, on top of buildings, and even on the street corner (in case you couldn’t make it to church that day, an altar awaits you as you are walking by).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lelania Van De Berg is from the southeastern United States and has been living and working abroad since 1999. She has lived in such places as Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Nepal and her favorite countries in the world are New Zealand and Turkey.