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MANILA (THE CAPITAL) OF THE PHILIPPINES
EVEN IF DISCOVERY CHANNEL FEATURES THE PHILIPPINES THROUGHOUT ITS LONG STAYING PROGRAM, IT HAS STILL NOT FEATURED SO MUCH ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES. SO IF TOURISTS ARE PLANNING TO TOUR THE COUNTRY, FOR AS LONG AS THEY LIVE, THEY NEED TO KEEP COMING BACK TO DISCOVER MORE AND MORE OF THE COUNTRY'S PARADISE BECAUSE IT IS NEEEEEVVVVVEEEEER ENDING. BELOW ARE JUST A FEW OF WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE COUNTRY, BUT THEY HAVE TO KEEP DIGGING BECAUSE THIS PARADISE SHOWS MORE THAN WHAT IS IN THE MAP.
MANILA (The capital of the Philippines)
Boracay may be the Philippines’ claim to fame, but Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, shows us that there are more reasons to pack your stuff and head out to this vibrant metropolis. Apart from a colorful history that is a source of pride and identity to its people, it also showcases an uncanny sense of resilience. This is quite apparent in its Hispanic-inspired architecture, which mingles with corporate edifices across its landscape.
The jeepney ride enables you to take on adventure in the city where rich and poor ride together to get to their destination. Taking jeepneys is much economical and saves you a lot of headache on the road and of course gasoline for a day, if you are on a very tight budget.
30 years ago, the jeepneys then were very few and they all look colorful and brand new. It was Sarao Motors that started to manufacture these, but I guess it is not anymore. Nowadays, there are jeepneys that are more rustic and of poor quality and were bought second hand .
Since Metro Manila has a growing population, and 60% of the people drive cars, plus public aircon buses are increasing that the traffic is getting worst. So many of the commuters take the MRT or LRT to get to work on time or to be able to get to school. But because there are too many students and employees that take the MRT everyday, this vehicle is always loaded with passengers, you could almost not be able to get off the MRT that easily so you will have to elbow with the other passengers blocking your way whether you get in or out of it. On the other hand, the LRT (Light Rail Transit) is more spacious and is not quite loaded except in the morning from 6 am to 10 am and during rush hour in the afternoon, at least starting at 5 pm to 7 pm.
CENTER OF EVERYTHING
Known simply as Manila to the locals, this slice of urban paradise is the country’s prime tourist hub, as well as center of culture, arts, commerce, education and entertainment. It also serves as a jump off point to other exciting local destinations like Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, and of course, Boracay. You might as well go full-on backpacker when you’re here because there’s just so much to explore like historical enclaves, supersized shopping malls, gastronomic surprises (Balut, anyone?) and more. And Manila is where it all begins.
The largest Chinatown in the world is in the Philippines, in Old Manila (during the Spanish, American, and Japanese era). This is located in the heart of a former business district where mostly Chinese run the businesses and live here. This is called Binondo. It used to be the business capital of the Philippines.
The monument of Jose Rizal, our National Hero, can be found in the Luneta Park. The area was improved so that tourists and the locals will be able to enjoy the park. However, this is also where pickpockets love to display and play. You would not know who they are because they are dressed in either poor clothing or presentable clothing.
Manila is being rehabilitated to bring it to its former beauty 50 years ago.
The Philippines have prominent shopping malls everywhere you go. The malls are owned by Filipino -Chinese business tycoons such as Sy and the Gocongwei. These malls are like convenience stores, in every city and province, it will be impossible not to see their large malls where you can dine and shop.
The Manila Ocean Park has become a newest addition to Manila's tourist attractions.
SM Megamall along Edsa in Mandaluyong City
SM Mall of Asia
Wherever you turn your head to there will be more and more shopping malls in the Philippines, the more 7-11 convenient store there is, the more shopping malls that you will find.
The famous Fort Santiago in Intramuros. This is where the Spanish Government and migrants do business within the huge stoned walls, and it is where the Illustrados and mestizos used to live during the 300 year Spanish era. The stoned walls are to protect the Spaniards from those who dare to revolt against them.
MEET THE LOCALS
Manila’s population is a mix of multi-racial people. While Filipino is the national language, English is the primary language of trade, government, media and education, not just in Manila but throughout the country. The locals are a friendly lot, especially known for being very hospitable, a trait becoming increasingly rare in other countries, wealthy or developing.
If you hear of any Filipino that speaks English in different accents, that is because the Philippines also has different dialects : Tagalog, Visayan, Chabacano, Kapampangan, Panganesen, Ilocano, etc. So when a Filipino speaks English, those who came from the provinces pronounce the English words in a different intonation and enunciation. Others may not be fluent in English, but apparently, they can understand and speak the language in a few sentences or in words clearly.
PARTY LIKE A ROCK STAR
When it comes to all things delicious, boozy, adventurous and sexy, it’s full steam ahead. Nights are always epic this part of the globe, because chances are, there’s a great local bar within walking distance from where you live. It’s definitely a jungle out there, and you’re the king. Chug that top shelf poison like it’s spring break in Vegas. Heck, buy everyone a round or two and you wouldn’t even need to break the bank. Just remember to pace yourself because there’s enough nightlife to last until dawn.
Manila is a great spot for night-life, clubbing and partying in general. The city never sleeps! New clubs are opening all the time, so this list is updated frequently.
Manila is a huge city, but we mainly focus on the best and most popular nightclubs in Metro Manila, especially Makati, Taguig / Bonifacio Global City (The Fort), Pasig, Pasay (Resorts World and Entertainment City) and QC (Quezon City).
Manila is one of the best places in the world to party. Obviously not everyone has the same taste in music and type of club, so the list below is mainly sorted by popularity and what people like in general. We also take the locations of the clubs in consideration and this list focuses mainly on the bigger clubs and clubs that are popular with international crowd.
Some of the Best Clubs in Manila (updated April 2013)
1. Republiq & Republiq Cabana Club - Resorts World (Pasay)
Address: Republiq Club, Unit 8, Second Level, Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila, Newport City, Pasay City
2. Prive, The Fort (Bonifacio Global City, Taguig)
Address: Privé Luxury Club, Unit C, The Fort Strip (Fort Entertainment Complex), The Fort, BGC, Taguig
3.7th High, The Fort (Bonifacio Global City, Taguig)
Address: Club 7th High, 7th Avenue (B3 Highstreet), The Fort (Fort Bonifacio Global City), Taguig
4. Opus, Resorts World (Pasay)
Address: Opus Lounge, 2/F, Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila, Newport Blvd, Newport City, Pasay City
Address: Eden Nightclub, Eastwood City Walk, Eastwood, Libs, Quezon City
9.EXcess, Quezon City
Address: EXcess Superclub, Timog Avenue (opposite of Music Bank close to Boy Scout Circle), Quezon City
10. Prime Upscale Club, Quezon City
Address: Tomas Morato Avenue corner Timog Avenue, Quezon City
11. Icon, Makati
Address: Icon, InterContinental Hotel, Ayala Ave / East Dr (Back entrance at Highway Dr), Makati
It will open somewhere in the first half of 2014. Envy promises to be the “Ultimate party destination in South East Asia”. The renders look promising:
Gramercy Residences – Party in the clouds!
Party in the Clouds will soon open!
Another new club has opened in Bonifacio Global City. Club Haze is a new clubbing concept by the people behind BigFish, the party organisation that has brought some of the world’s best EDM DJs to Manila. The club focuses mainly on electronic dance music (house, trance, club etc).
Club Haze Manila is located on the Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Haze features a state of the art sound system as well as great lighting and visual shows.
For more info, reservations, guest list and VIP table bookings call (632) 8088080 or call or text 09178749896 / 09175253107. Below you can find the Haze table layout.
Hyve Manila is a new upscale club and lounge that opened in March 2013 at the top floor of the W Global Center in Bonifacio Global City. The club is gaining popularity quite fast and is currently one of Manila’s latest hotspots.
Every weekend Club Hyve has live performances by international guest DJs or female model DJs. Some of the DJs that have performed (or will be performing soon) are Jimmy Carris, Geri Sia, Hook N Sling, Minx, Jane Geri, Brooke Evers, DSharp, Sarah Robertson, Dimsum and DJ Riddler.
The music style in Hyve is currently mainly EDM (Electronic Dance Music).
Hyve Club is brought to you by the same people as Skye Lounge and is located at the 8th Floor of the W Global building, 9th Avenue, BGC (Bonifacio Global City), Taguig. For reservations, guest list, bottle service and table bookings text or call +63 917 633 5882
In the ice bar, located in the back, you can enjoy Russian Standard’s Imperial Vodka at -5 degrees Celsius. To get into the actual ice bar you have to pay a one time fee of Php 550, which allows you 15 minutes inside and includes 2 Imperial Vodka shots. Before you step into the ice bar you enter a small room where you will be provided with a warm winter jacket, gloves and hat. You then enter the ice bar where literally everything is sculpted out of ice, including the bar, the tables, the seats, the decor and even the shot glasses.
At the bar you can order your Imperial Vodka shots. You can chose from 3 infused flavors: Lychee, Mango and Pineapple. For those that want to drink more shots, you can purchase additional shots for Php 275.
The vodka shots really help you to stay warm in the -5 degrees Celsius bar, but for many it will be hard to last the full 20 minutes inside the freezing temperatures. When you had enough you return your jacket and step back into the lounge area where you can enjoy premium drinks, cocktails and Russian inspired bar snacks.
The lounge area has an awesome interior and includes a DJ booth, standing tables, couches and a huge bar. Here you can continue the rest of your night while enjoying some great cocktails (or other drinks, including full bottle service). The DJs make sure to keep the party going all night.
Imperial Ice Bar also has a VIP room for groups that like a more private experience. The VIP room has big screen TV on which you can watch a live feed from the camera in the ice bar.
Imperial Ice Bar is definitely something you just have to check out. A great experience, good music, nice food and an awesome interior. It’s a great addition to Manila’s nightlife.
Imperial Ice Bar Manila is located along the Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City (next to Draft and Prive). Open daily except Sundays.
The Cabana Club at Republiq is a brand new VIP clubbing room at Republiq Club in Resorts World Manila. It is a separate VIP-only club inside of Republiq Club with it’s own DJ booth and 2 bars.
Republiq Cabana Club has 2 floors and 8 private VIP rooms in various sizes. Each VIP room has it’s own restroom and can be closed with curtains for ultimate privacy. On the dance floor there are several cocktail tables with the setting of a waterfall on the back wall.
The club has it’s own bars and DJ booth, but it also has direct access to Republiq’s main room.
The official Cabana Club launch party is on Thursday February 7 and starts at 9pm.
For Cabana Club table reservations text or call +63-917-872-6759
For corporate or private events in Republiq Cabana Club you cann text or call Stephen Ku directly at : +63-918-939-9335
RECONNECT WITH MOTHER NATURE
When life leaves you feeling a little flat, hit the great outdoors, which is just a short drive or flight from the city. With seven thousand islands’ worth of coastline and beautiful peaks that are just there for the taking, only the lazy and unimaginative won’t be able to find the perfect weekend getaway. So go ahead, gaze at the majesty of the pacific or ride that tough-as-nails bike of yours off-road. Clearing the cobwebs has never been this awesome.
LIVING IN THE CITY
Choosing where to live in Manila is no longer a daunting task. Recent years have seen a boom in construction, giving you more living options than ever. There are a lot of types of residences available near the workplace and peripheral cities. The type of accommodation usually depends on your needs and budget. You can choose to live in a high rise condominium that’s more ideal for a single person or a young couple, or a landed property that’s more spacious, hence a better fit for a family.
There are a lot of condominiums that are being built in modern cities within the Metro, and private subdivisions since the 70's have been sprouting everywhere.
There are a number of educational institutions within the metro for your kids other than the Exclusive Catholic Schools and large public schools. These are International Schools such as Brent International School, British School Manila, European International School, and International School Manila, to name a few, all follow the Western curriculum. For a more locally immersed education, private Catholic schools worth mentioning include Assumption College (all girls), Ateneo de Manila Grade School and High School (all boys), Collegio de San Agustin (co-ed), De La Salle Santiago Zobel School (co-ed), La Salle-Greenhills (all boys), PAREF Southridge School (all boys), PAREF Woodrose School (all girls), and Xavier School (all boys). Value systems and teaching levels in these schools are excellent. There are also Public and Private Colleges and Universities everywhere in the Philippines. Some of them dates back during the Spanish era more than a hundred or two hundred years ago.
UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS
(Students speak the language: 50% English ; 50% Filipino)
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
(Students Speak the language: 70% English; 30% Filipino)
ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY
(Students Speak the language: 90% English; 10% Filipino)
DELA SALLE UNIVERSITY
(Students Speak the language: 70% English; 30% Filipino)
The best of Manila is big, bright, bold and beautiful. Colorful, too.
The best of Manila is most easily found in its confluence of identities.
It's urban yet still developing. The city has world-class hotels and amenities, but no shortage of places for those on an adventure budget.
Then there's the food. The Manila table reflects the country’s history, with Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and American influences.
With 11.5 million residents, Manila nevertheless doesn't attract the same number of tourists as many Asian capital cities -- it's still often a transit city to the white sand beaches of Boracay and Palawan, or the vacation island of Cebu.
Yet local expats will say that it's one of the best places to live in Asia -- and even retire in.
Why? The comforts, soul, fiesta attitude and, most of all, the people. When you meet a Filipino, you instantly become a friend, and they’ll be more than happy to show you around.
Since it’s (now, officially) more fun in the Philippines, government and private developers have been increasing efforts to beautify the congested capital and reduce pollution at the same time, with open-air green developments such as Ayala Triangle Park and Bonifacio High Street, vertical gardens under flyovers and tunnel walls and, coming soon, plant boxes on 900 lampposts along the main highway, EDSA.
Here’s a quick guide to the best of Manila.
If you think understated elegance is overrated, Makati Shangri-La will change your mind.
Manila's top business travelers and politicians come to play at the Makati Shangri-La.
Local heavyweights are often spotted buzzing in and out of the main and side entrances heading for the hotel’s restaurants -- Red, Inagiku and Shang Palace -- which are popular venues for meetings.
Rooms are Manila's swankiest, some overlooking the skyline of the Makati financial district.
Foodies take note: the breakfast buffet is one of the largest and most extensive in the country.
The Peninsula Manila has quite the history. The 11-story towers were built in 1976 by former president Ferdinand Marcos and first lady Imelda to impress delegates attending the International Monetary Fund conference.
The walls came crashing down in 2007 when an army tank rammed into the lobby during an attempted coup in which rebel soldiers occupied the building and discharged gun shots and tear gas. Nonetheless, the now-restored best of Manila hotel remains one of the city’s most luxurious, with a four-story ceiling giving way to a 12-meter “Sunburst” installation by National Artist Napoleon Abueva.
Rooms are dressed with classic Filipiniana touches, like native weavings on the sofas and curtains, and transparent shells for lampshades.
The Raffles Makati is the newest luxury hotel in Manila.
Situated on the same property, the Raffles and Fairmont Makati are the latest additions to the roster of Manila luxury hotels, opening their doors in December 2012.
The 32 all-suite Raffles Makati is home to the Writer’s Bar (styled as a library) and the Long Bar. Both have Filipino art pieces, including a mural of boxing legend Manny Pacquiao in the latter.
The 280-room Fairmont Makat shares ballrooms and other facilities. You can tell where you are simply by looking at the color of the marble flooring: Raffles (white) and Fairmont (auburn gold).
Raffles Makati, 1 Raffles Drive, Makati Avenue, Makati City; + 63 2 555 9777; from P16,300 ($398) per night;raffles.com/makati; Fairmont Makati; +63 2 555 9888; from P9,800 ($239) per night; fairmont.com/makati
Joya Lofts and Towers
Hate hotels? Want to cook your own breakfast? Rent one of Joya's private units.
Across the street from upscale Power Plant Mall, Joya Lofts and Towers isn’t really a hotel. It's a residential building with privately owned units to let.
Situated in the Rockwell neighborhood of Makati, where streets are wide and clean, each unit is furnished with a kitchen stovetop, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher and dining area.
Wired Internet is complimentary; however, there's a fee for Wi-Fi.
28 Plaza Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati; +63 2 798 0497-8; from P4,555 ($105) per night; hii-joya.com
Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences
Picasso wants you to have an artful stayIn a historic building with found objects from construction integrated into its architecture, Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences is designed to be an “engine of art.”
Exterior images assemble only when the façade is viewed from certain angles. Ceiling mirrors reflect the streets as you sip coffee. The color palette was inspired by Picasso's work.
Rooms are named after the cities in which Picasso lived, such as Malaga (where the artist was born), Madrid (where he first studied art) and are equipped with kitchenettes.
An in-house gallery, Altro Mondo, displays works by emerging talents; the 1920s European-inspired Brasserie Boheme has become great Manila venue for laid-back night caps. The Picasso is within walking distance of popular Salcedo Market, which runs every Saturday in a nearby park.
119 L.P. Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City; +63 2 828 4774; from P4,700 (US$114) per night; picassomakati.com
Rooms are small (not all have windows), but they're clean, comfortable and include a flat-screen TV with cable channels.
All rooms are non-smoking. Though the hotel doesn't give out complimentary drinking water -- strange -- it does offer free Wi-Fi and breakfast.
Guijo Suites is located in the back streets of Makati. While only a couple of fast food joints are found within walking distance, a short cab ride will take you to the central malls.
Bring a printed map of the hotel's hidden location to show your taxi driver.
7644 Guijo St. (between Kamagong and Pasong Tamo), San Antonio Village, Makati; +63 2 553 8998; from P2,400 ($55) per night; guijosuites-makati.com
Sala Bistro/People’s Palace
Scottish chef Colin MacKay put these two restaurants right smack next two each other in Manila's prime Greenbelt neighborhood.
Sala Bistro is a modern European bistro that serves a mean steak tartare. The interior is rich and dark with white linens.
People’s Palace is a modern Thai restaurant with a long bar, white chairs and tables inside and day beds outside. Shrimp pomelo salad, pad thai and green chicken curry often get repeat orders.
Given that Spain ruled the Philippines for 400 years, its colonial influence naturally spreads to the kitchen.
Run by sibling chefs J Gamboa and Malu, El Cirkulo serves very good Spanish tapas (some with a Filipino twist), like roasted bone marrow, and a large selection of paellas including the Paella Montana (portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, truffle oil and asparagus).
It's also where you'll find the best sisig in town, the Cabeza de Cerdo. This famed crunchy yet soft Filipino snack is made with suckling pig head parts and features a tinge of spice. If you're looking for a best of Manila treat, this is it.
The Capampangan word for "friend" and "getting together" -- and also the nickname of late owner Larry J. Cruz’s father, Emilio Aguilar Cruz -- Abe features cuisine from the province of Pampanga, culinary center of the Philippines.
A restaurant that buzzes with lively chatter from different tables, this is the place many locals bring their foreign guests to introduce them to Filipino food.
Dishes are flavorful, like the lamb adobo with popped-garlic crispy pla pla, paco fern and tomato salad and gising-gising.
Serendra Plaza, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig and Level M3, Trinoma Mall, North EDSA, Quezon City; +63 2 856 0526 (Serendra) and +63 2 901 5691 (Trinoma); ljcrestaurants.com
In Manila's famed dampas, everything smells fishy
You choose your own seaside catches of the day and vendors will cook it for you -- grilled, steamed, fried, however you like.
If you've heard the word "dampa" (wet market), that could be because U.S celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain ate lunch at one when he visited Manila. There are several dampas around Manila, but the more popular ones are on Macapagal Avenue (largest variety) and Farmers Market (where Bourdain ate).
Damp and murky, it smells and feels like what it is -- a wet market. Best dress casual.
Farmers Market, Quezon City and Macapagal Avenue, Pasay City
Van Gogh Is Bipolar
Owner Jetro Raphael was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and studied mood-altering food to trigger body hormones for his personal diet.
He eventually opened up his quaint and quirky home into a restaurant, serving dishes such as turkey, salmon, eggs and black mountain rice, naming dishes after personalities diagnosed as bipolar such as Axl Rose’s Egg Shot, Virginia Woolf’s Tears and Mel Gibson’s Darkest Sin, all with curative “chill” or “happy” properties.
Shoes are to be taken off upon entrance, and payment runs by an honor system. The restaurant is open only when Raphael feels like it so best to text or call him in advance.
154 Maginhawa St., Quezon City; +63 922 824 3051
Ramen? Sushi? Manga? Hai, it's all here.
Some of the best Japanese restaurants in the country are no-frills affairs found in a compound called Little Tokyo. Zen gardens, red lanterns and Japanese signs almost give the impression that you're in Japan.
Restaurants here are generally owned by Japanese who have moved to the country to start families with Filipina wives. You'll find fresh sushi, sashimi and bento meals atIzakaya Kikufuji (+63 2 893 7319) and Seryna (+63 2 894 3855), ramen at Shinjuku (+63 2 819 1242), okonomiyaki at Kagura (+63 2 894 3656) and takoyaki atHa Na (+63 2 828 8471). There's a small grocery and snack bar called Choto Stop, which sells soba and ramen amid a display of manga comics and Japanese TV.
2277 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City
Sunday morning shopping.
There's good reason to not overdo things on Friday nights. From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, Salcedo Park turns into a weekend market where home-based cooks sell their delicacies. On Sundays, Legazpi Park turns into a market, with a focus on organic produce and beauty products.
Food trucks have recently invaded the city, led by Cucina Andare, brainchild of the Mercato Centrale Group.
From 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., Friday to Sunday, Glorietta Park turns into a food truck market and bazaar with live music and entertainment to feed the after-office and after-party crowds. Shawarma Bros serves roasted seasoned lamb, chicken and beef on hearty open plates with biryani rice.Merry Moo serves homemade artisan ice cream made from fresh local dairy from farmers in Laguna, with unique flavors like cookie butter, Poprocks & Mallows, horlicks and candied bacon.
Cucina Andare, Glorietta Park (in front of Glorietta 3, Landmark, Makati Shangri-La Hotel and 6750 Ayala Ave.), Ayala Center, Makati City
The Blind Pig is Manila's best bet for a drink. If you can find it.Residents who once complained about how hard it is to find a proper cocktail in Manila rejoiced with the opening of Blind Pig.
The first speakeasy in Manila, Blind Pig is located in a nondescript building without a name or sign, except for simple braille lettering. Ring the doorbell to gain access to the dark bar, an ode to the 1920s U.S. Prohibition era.
The Gold Rush is a beautiful whiskey-based drink stirred with honey and lemon juice. Smokey Old Bastard is a powerful concoction of scotch, maple syrup and orange smoke.
The crowd is mostly regulars, who heard of the bar by word of mouth, and returned with a friend, who returned with another friend. Come on a quiet evening and you might find the bartenders hand-cutting ice themselves.
227 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati; +63 917 549 2264
This café opposite Ayala Museum has artwork and furniture for sale in the back. Come sundown, rays of light permeate the floor-to-ceiling glass doors, making it the perfect backdrop for an after-hours cocktail.
Museum Café, more popularly known as M, recently took over the Museum Shop and built Kabila, a restaurant with an all-Filipino menu. Thursday and Friday nights are most popular with expats and visitors, turning the plaza and garden into an outdoor party with local and international DJs spinning house, funk and Afro beats.
Skye is the first real rooftop bar in Manila. Sitting atop the W Building, it allows a rare breath of fresh air and an expansive view of the Fort Bonifacio skyline.
The bar attracts a young and laid-back crowd tired of elbowing their way through the city's typically claustrophobic and smoky clubs.
Roofdeck W, High Street Building, 28th, corner 11th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig; +63 2 478 4284
Draft has been a consistent watering hole for imported and local brews at a competitive price. Packed nightly with young executives, expats and celebs, European comfort food, like Angry Drunk Mussels and the best sticky date and toffee pudding in the world is served over a large selection of beer brands, including six kinds of imported beer on tap.
The Fort Entertainment Center, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; +63 917 819 5830; Power Plant
Mall, Rockwell, Makati; +63 915 593 6328
Salon de Ning/Pen Bar
Manila's Salon de Ning is the fanciest bar in town.
The Peninsula Hotel houses the most ornate bar in the country, Salon de Ning, which recalls 1930s Shanghai.
Themed rooms are furnished with art deco pieces, providing a best of Manila experience.
The live band of the night is the focal point.
Right across the way is the Cuban-inspired Pen Bar, with big window blinds, leather seats and checkered floors.
While filming "Bourne Legacy," actor Jeremy Renner dressed in a T-shirt and baseball cap and often parked himself at Pen's square bar, along with members of the film crew.
Peninsula Manila; corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues, Makati City; +63 2 887 2888; peninsula.com
Republiq and Opus
Republiq is the pied piper of the Manila club scene.
Born as Embassy, reincarnated as Encore and now Republiq, wherever the club went -- from The Fort to Resorts World Manila -- crowds followed.
With international DJs, such as Calvin Harris, Avicii, Kaskade and LMFAO playing sold-out sets, and lines that snake longer than those at airport immigration, Republiq sits on the throne as the king of Manila’s club scene.
Sister restaurant and lounge Opus attracts an older, stylish 25-40 set, a generally see-and-be-seen crowd that starts the night in laid-back style before turning it into a full-blown party at the stroke of midnight.
Resorts World Manila, Newport Boulevard, Newport City, Pasay; + 63 917 550 8888 (table bookings); republiq.ph
For an insider look at Manila heritage, tour guide Carlos Celdran is the man.
When you think about historic sites in Manila, Intramuros is the first place that comes to mind. In fact, the walled city -- lined with cobblestones and tramped by horse-drawn carriages known as "kalesas" -- is the only part of the city where Spanish-era influences still abound.
It's home to Manila Cathedral, a Romanesque facade with the biggest pipe organ in Southeast Asia; San Agustin Church (oldest in Manila), completed in 1607; and Fort Santiago, once the seat of Spanish military power, today a memorial to national hero Jose Rizal, who was imprisoned here before his execution in 1896 for inciting revolution against the Spaniards.
The best way to understand the place is to go on a tour with guide Carlos Celdran. Celdran, who describes his job as “trying to change the way you look at Manila,” questions and challenges what’s written in the history books.
His “If These Walls Can Talk: The Intramuros Tour” is one of the most engaging, truthful and mind-blowing tours in the city.
No gentrification here. Manila's Chinatown is as gritty and authentic as ever.
Reputedly the oldest Chinatown (outside of China, we presume) in the world, Binondo was established in 1594, soon after Spaniards conquered the Philippines.
Today, it's an amalgamation of Buddhist temples, pawn shops and Chinese restaurants, with each street housing a specialty: fresh Xiamen lumpia at Po-Heng Lumpia House on Quintin Paredes, fried noodles at Quik Snack on Carvajal and Chinatown institution President Grand Palace Restaurant on Ongpin street.
You might spot one of Chinatown's fire trucks (manned by volunteer firefighters), which are painted purple in honor of their sponsor, a pastry shop called Eng Bee Tin on Ongpin, known for its purple yam delicacies.
Greenhills Shopping Center
Greenhills Shopping Center is an indoor-outdoor haven with more than 2,000 stores selling clothes, electronics, pirated DVDs and those beautiful pearls that came to define the Philippines as the Pearl of the Orient.
Even the Queen of Spain was spotted here shopping for pearls. Incognito, of course.
Don't ever agree to the first price you're given. The key to shopping at Greenhills is to haggle and compare prices in surrounding stalls.
Overseas mall developers have commended Greenbelt, the most upscale mall in the country, for being able to mix indoor shopping and dining with landscaped gardens.
The second floor of Greenbelt 5 houses some of the country’s top local designer brand collections. It's also home to Adora, a well-curated lifestyle department store that looks expensive and intimidating, but actually carries affordable merchandies in addition to high-end goods.
Not exactly Main Street, U.S.A., but the first "main street" retail shopping area in the country, nonetheless.
It’s almost like shopping within a park. The wide, clean roads of Bonifacio High Street (BHS) make up the first "main street" retail concept in the country, with flagship stores and restaurants lining both sides of this dog-friendly park.
BHS was inspired by the Main Street, U.S.A. concept that celebrates a work and play environment, as well as the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California, and The Grove in Los Angeles.
With four floors of books, the largest bookstore in the country, Fully Booked, is here.
Recent expansion south has led to Bonifacio High Street Central, with street brands found outdoors and luxury watch brands found indoors. The restaurant row features an array of options, such as grilled meats at Cue Modern BBQ, New York-style pizza at Nolita, double chocolate yema cake at Slice, foie gras macarons atThe Cake Club and a potent silver tequila concoction made with jalapeño-pepper vodka, Rocket Fuel, at retro-inspired Rocket Room, packed with both the trendy set and families almost every night.
Cubao X styles itself as a communist pub, milk-and-cookie bar and mall for stores selling retro art, vintage furniture, vinyl records and custom-leather shoes in a neighborhood that feels like “places within a place within a place.”
First conceptualized as an "anti-mall," The Collective is a former auto shop and now home to alternative retail shops and restaurants catering to the young and hip.
Remodeled vintage bikes, vinyl toys, art prints and avant-garde clothing are some of the things you might dig up.
At night, bar B-side churns out alternative music. On Sundays it hosts Irie Sundays: reggae, ska and dance hall with lots of beer and local street food.
Antonio's is viewed by many as the Philippines' best restaurant.
Locals looking to get away from city chaos often head to Tagaytay for a day trip or overnighter. Approximately 60 kilometers from Manila and sitting 640 meters above sea level, the city has mountains, fresh air, a cool and breezy climate and plenty of greenery.
Tagaytay is also home to Taal Volcano, the smallest active volcano in the world. It can be accessed by abanca (Filipino boat). It's a two-hour hike up to the crater by foot, or a leisurely ride on a tired old horse.
Plenty of locals drive to Tagaytay with the sole purpose of eating. Antonio’s has been voted by Filipinos and expats as the best restaurant in the country, with accolades from the Miele Guide and USA Today. Continental and Filipino fare are served in chef Tony Boy Escalante’s three-story, one-hectare home, with greens he harvests from his own garden.
Another cozy restaurant is Verbena, at luxury bed and breakfast Discovery Country Suites.
Sonya’s Garden serves an organic buffet of salads and pasta in her bed-and-breakfast garden setting.
______________________________________________________________ How to be a Manila local: 10 tips on faking it (just for fun, but you may encounter this experience, though.)
Manila can be an intimidating city for a newcomer. It doesn't have to be. Follow these 10 tips on how to look like a local and pretty soon people will be calling you "Chip" or "Te."
1. How to talk to strangers
If you run into Manny Pacquiao, show off your Tagalog skills by calling him "Pogi."In Manila, it’s all about balancing familiarity and respect.
Address men as “Boss," “Chip” (chief), “Kuya” (Tagalog for older brother), “Pogi” (handsome) or “Pare.”
When speaking to ladies, call them “Miss.” But replace the short “i” with a long one, so that it sounds like “Meees."
Or just call them “Te,” which is the abbreviated word for ate (Tagalog for older sister).
Makes no sense? You're fitting in already.
2. How to ask for the bill at restaurants
First, raise your hand to get the attention of the server.
When you’ve finally made eye contact, raise your other hand and draw a rectangle in the air by forming triangles with the tips of your index fingers and thumbs touching.
Draw them out apart, snapping shut a rectangle as you shut the index fingers and thumbs of the same hand together.
As you do this, say “chit” loudly enough for the server to hear you.
Pronunciation is key here. You don't want to insult the chef.
3. How to ride a jeepney
One bus -- well, jeepney -- that you want to be on the back of.
Though you can hail the Philippines' most popular form of city transportation from just about any point on the road, hopping on at proper jeepney stops has advantages. You have a better chance of grabbing the jeep’s prime real estate: the seat farthest from the driver, right next to the entry in the back.
Sit yourself there and wait until the jeep starts to fill up with riders. Then pay. Never mind that people will have to practically crawl over you to get to their seats.
From this seat, you not only get to exit quicker, you get to experience the thrill of having passengers in middle seats pass your fare to the driver for you.
Hold your money out to the passenger beside you and say “Bayad.” Don't worry, your fare will get to the driver, who watches the whole process from his panoramic rearview mirror.
Should you be seated somewhere in the middle and money is passed to you, take it and pass it on to the next passenger.
To really fit in with locals, pretend to be asleep (hold the handrail hanging from the ceiling and then rest your head, facedown) or look out your side window and pretend to be lost in thought.
Feel free to stare at people, just don’t get caught doing it.
When there’s room beside you, always shift yourself nearer the entrance. There's no such thing as personal space in a jeepney.
When you’re near your destination, shout “Para!” and quickly head for the opening. Most Importantly, if you are going to work or if you do not want to be late for your appointment, leave house early and take the jeepney where there are already half full of passengers. the jeepney will be about to leave. Or take the jeepney where jeepneys are no longer lining up to wait until the jeepney is full.
4. How to speak
Ask for things by using brand names instead of their actual names. Like Coke for soda, Colgate for toothpaste and Xerox for photocopy.
Should you forget a word mid-sentence, say “ano” or “kwan” in its place. Pinoys will understand you.
If you need to get someone's attention, just shout “Psst!” If unsuccessful, use the more urgent “Psst-huy!”
You might also want to learn a bit of Bekinese. Bekinese is traditionally used by homosexuals, but everybody -- men, women, gay, straight -- can speak a word or two of Bekinese.
Because Bekinese incorporates global pop culture into Tagalog, it makes conversations more fun, lively and entertaining.
For instance: "Pawis Hilton" means sweaty; "Pawis" is sweat in Tagalog and sounds close to Paris.
Or you can say "Antokyo" when you’re sleepy. "Antok" is Tagalog for sleepy and its last syllable is the same as the first of Japan’s capital. Some words used by gays are just gay lingos. The real Filipino words are in the Tagalog-English dictionary or used by straight men and women.
5. How to find your seat inside the cinema
Act like a shark in deep water. Put your hands flat against each other in front of you, like a stealthy fin moving through the sea.
This action will inform the ocean of people that you're coming through. Be sure to scrunch your shoulders up a bit and your neck down a little, decreasing your size and thus causing less disturbance.
Don't forget to whisper "Excuse me" and "Sorry," alternately and in succession. Once you find your seat but you are with companion (s), place something on each seat to signal strangers that those seats are reserved.
6. How to point at things Use your mouth. Pucker it toward the direction of the referred item.
7. How to eat
IIn Manila, grab the last piece of chicken at your own risk.
Meals are a celebration in the Philippines. Very few eat alone and dining is almost always done family-style, with all dishes shared.
Should it happen that you want your own meal and it arrives first (Selfish brute!) offer some to your companions.
More often than not, they’ll say no, and encourage you to go ahead and start. So go ahead and start.
Utensils are always spoon and fork, not knife and fork. Hold down the food with your fork, use your spoon to cut it. Put the piece of food on top of rice, then scoop it up.
Always be ready for a midday snack.
And don't grab the last piece. Pinoys shy away from picking up the last piece of anything. Wait until you’re sure no one is taking it before expressing polite interest in that last piece of fried chicken.
8. How to take self-portraits
The Filipino art of self-portraiture.
The photo would be far nicer if you got someone else to take it, things aren't always done that way here. Blurry close-up shots are often preferred.
To achieve the perfect Pinoy angle, extend your camera arm in front of you, a little toward the outer side of the arm’s shoulder. Raise arm to a 45-degree angle so that the camera is pointing downward.
This is done particularly well by couples on dates.
9. How to pose for photos
If you must let someone else take your photo, a simple smile won't do.
Instead, make an “L” sign using the index finger and thumb of one hand. With palm facing in, place your chin in the space between the thumb and index finger so that the latter goes up to the cheekbone and the thumb supports the jawline.
Slap on your goofiest grin. Or use a "V" sign leaving your point finger and middle finger (just like how Koreans do it). And then SMILE! If you are in a group, Filipinos would like to do it in a natural pose. Then they will request for one more shot doing the model pose, then another request for wacky pose.
10. How to text
In the Philippines, phones aren't used for making phone calls.
And be sure to use Jejenese, the prevailing SMS language.
Practitioners of Jejenese are called Jejemon. They use "z" in place of "s," add "h" where they can, make minimal use of vowels and disregard rules of capitalization and punctuation.
For instance: “mztah na” is Jejenese for “kamusta na,” which is “how are you” in Tagalog.
You can blame defective keyboards, or the need to be unique. The Philippines is a nation of texters. So text at every opportunity: waiting in line, on the bus or walking. Always text, never call.
The Philippines was considered the first cellphone texting capital of the world. Even the American militaries who were assigned to the country were so impressed by how fast younger Filipinos text and send out messages using their cellphones.