Friday, April 19, 2013

Manila, Manila I keep coming back to Manila...

When I told my friends that I am going to Manila - the first question asked was, "do you have a nice shopping centre or a hotel?" - it was a bit ignorant but I couldn't blame them.

Philippines is always known as a third world country, a terrorist hideout in the south, and one of the great red light district spots in Asia. Only few people know that the Banue  Rice Terraces in Northern Luzon was named the 8th Wonder of the World and that the country has hidden valleys, beaches and mountains - that are known for nature lovers and divers.

The second question was, "do they speak English?" - Yes, English is the second language in the Philippines and Tagalog is the National language.  The country has 7,107 islands including the three major islands - Luzon (Manila, the country's capital), Visayas and Mindanao. There are about 100++ dialects, and more or less 90% could speak the Native language. Most Filipinos can communicate and/or understand English however, the level of literacy varies on their status, educational background and location.

Here's a glimpse of Manila, a place that I will always be proud of and call my home.

An outdoor shot of Sofitel, Manila from the Opera Suite
One of the best days spent in Manila - watching the sunrise with a bubbly & a great breakfast from the Spiral
 Philippines' National Dress

Dining in the seaside market is one of the popular things-to-do in Manila and other

Wine & Dine at Sofitel with family & friends
 Little Tokyo, Makati

Four days out of my five-day visit in Manila I stayed in the hotel, mainly because of my friend's wedding. I was lucky to have friends and family who extended their hospitality while I was there.

One of my good friends, Lilian, let me stayed at her place the entire time I was in Manila (she was away then), unfortunately I only came to her house on my last day, and no doubt I had the best time - stress free, well organized and a tranquil space to stay and rejuvenate before a long flight back to Toronto, my second home.

Mabuhay, with Philippine Airlines - I was always hesitant flying with PAL because the food isn't that great, the flight is mostly delayed and the seats are very uncomfortable. But, I MUST say things had changed - I took the first 15-hour straight flight to Toronto from Manila, the service & food was great, the seats are nice and comfortable with extra legroom space. I will definitely fly with them again, especially now that I have free Mabuhay Airmiles.

*The title is from the song Manila, by Side A
*Images are taken by yours truly, using Ipod Touch 5th generation