23 August 2010

Manila: Finding Our Way to Intramuros

Waking up on my second day in Manila, I had my very first view of the sprawling metro Manila from the veranda of the hostel.

Gotta tell you that Manila IS NOT A CITY. In fact, it is a combination of 16 cities that make up Metro Manila which is arguably one of the most populated metropolitan areas on earth.
Manila by name is actually only one of these 16 cities and it bears the reputation as the most densely populated city in the whole world. So you’d expect people crawling and roaming just about every corner of the city.
Manila is just so big we can’t really tell where the city centre really is. It has no heart, or rather heartless – If you may say it that way. :-D
So, some very basic courtesy breakfast was waiting for us on the table.
It amused me somehow how their breakfast would always come with banana – something that is not common for breakfast back in Malaysia. I almost thought it had something to do with us being from Sabah and they THOUGHT we were one of them.
Hehe. Ridiculous thinking. I mean, my thinking.
Hitting into the street later, the real face of Manila began to unfold before us.
Kids carrying babies came to us to ask for money.
And whether you like it or not, it is so common a sight in Manila.
And there were homeless people sleeping on the streets and in the dirty back alleys EVERYWHERE.
If you want to see the reality of life in our world today, go to Manila and you’d be served with lots of them.
We do see homeless people sleeping here and there in KL, and even in many other parts of Malaysia, but there are just so many of them here in Manila.
While most of them would sleep out of hunger, some of them would actually sleep out of happiness. For sure, these guys here were floating on the cloud 9. LOL. *mabuq
It would have been easy for us to just grab a taxi and ask the cabbie to take us to where we wanted to go. But of course, we didn’t go to Manila to do all the easy things and miss the REAL adventure. Instead, we went for this.
JEEPNEY! Jeepney is something that you gotta experience in any of your visits to Manila. This highly emblazoned unique vehicle takes the modus operandi of a bus where each of them has its own routes and would only stop at certain stops.
For one thing, it is so cheap that what seems to be unending ride would only cost you about 7-10 pesos (Rm0.50). Even a very long ride wouldn’t cost you anymore than 12 pesos. So so cheap one. I loike!
Jeepney that we had come to discover was surprisingly effective. They seem to cover just about every corner of Manila. All you need to do is ask and it is best to ask the driver himself. ALWAYS the driver if you want to be safe.
Good thing about Jeepney is that most of them impose a no smoking policy. At least it wouldn’t make things any worse for you when the whole city of Manila is already heavily ensnared in thick smoke. Manila really is a smoky city.
I used to have in mind that jeepney was more like a mini-carriage carried by a modified bike just like the Tut Tut in Thailand. It turned out that it is a ‘complete’ vehicle.
It is every inch a car with a gear shaft, brake and accelerator and even meter and fuel indicator.
You have heard it before and I’m gonna verify it. Drivers in Manila are crazy. If you’re prone to heart-attack, taking a jeepney is not advisable. They would slip through to anything there is to slip through.
The best you can do is, get a good grip and start praying. LOL
Ironically, they still have the guts to ask... 'How is my driving?'.. You'd see this question printed on every jeepney and taxi.
NUTS. That's my answer. You might need to take more than one jeepney to get to your intended destination. We had to do a 'transit' at one of the main meeting points of jeepneys in Manila, at a place called MRT Station.
Our first intended destination was non-other than – The Rizal Park. OH well, quite true to its name, Rizal Park is a park. What else can it be? Hehe.
But then, it is not just an ordinary park. It bears a great significance to the history of The Philippines as being the EXACT location of the execution of Jose Rizal – the greatest revolutionist in the history of this country.
I really like horse-carriages. They seem to add in some beauty to the old district of Manila. BUT I found their persistence in giving us a ride quite irritating.
They would tail behind us, never wanting to leave us alone I was so tempted to go to the police and ask them to protect us from these damn horses.
Luckily they are not allowed inside the park so they just watched helplessly as I did this.
Catch me if you can.. Buekkkkkkk. LOL

Manilakers love music more than anything else. They’d play music in just about every corner of the city, in every building, even inside money-changing cubicles, toilets, everywhere! And jeez, they play it so ear-breaking loud it made me wonder why they all didn’t turn deaf… yet! LOL
Just see how this old man here singing to George Michael’s Careless Whisper. He sang to it so heartily I was pretty sure I saw tears streaming down his face. I FELT for him. :-P
And I actually heard somebody singing something somewhere which sounded like a lullaby in a very soft voice I automatically looked around to find this lady singing to her .......
..cat. A CAT! Erkkkk, OK.
Rizal Park is more like a combination of smaller parks. Some of the sections would require you to pay a little bit of entrance fee – just for the sake getting some income I guess.
It is more like the entrance fee to our public toilets here in Malaysia though.
But then, I’d rather pay for a toilet. Fresh from Mulu where I got to experience its magnificent REAL caves, I wouldn’t pay a single penny for some fake cave like this.
Hehe. The truth is, I didn’t have too much time. The whole park is quite big you may need to get on this mini-train if you want to save some of your energy.
..and you might even need the help of a map to know exactly we you should be heading to.
I wished I had more time to cover all of them but no. Waking up at almost 10am (sorry Liz, ahaks), half of the day was already gone by the time we got there. Rizal Park has an amusing sense of estheticism. They paint on just about everything to make the park look colorful. Even the trees are not spared.
On the other end of the square-shaped park is the focal point of the whole park - the Jose Rizal Monument.
I really didn’t see the necessity of guarding the Rizal Monument THAT closely when there can’t be any gold in there to steal. But it is probably a gesture of symbolism that tells other countries NOT TO MESS with them EVER again.
The Philippines has a very long history of colonization. It was ruled by the Spanish for over 3 centuries from 1565 to 1821, briefly taken over by the British Empire for about 2 years before it was returned to the Spanish again - who then SOLD the islands to the American for about USD20 million. THEN there was this great invasion by the Japanese in the World War II.
BY the time the American regained control following the win of the Allies in the WW II, the Filipinos were no more too stupid to let themselves be continually ruled by an outsider. They fought the American off – not really won it – but the nationalism among the Filipinos had solidified and the revolutionary movements sparked by the likes of Jose Rizal had subsequently made the American back off and The Philippines was eventually granted independence.
We were there long enough to witness the changing of guard.
And long enough to see how ridiculous can people be sometimes. I hope he’s not a blogger. Erkkkk. I think he is. Only bloggers would do that. Those desperate bloggers :-P
When I asked where we should go next (tolerence.. tolerence...:-D), Lizzie was fast to finger point to the sign of restaurant on the map. After all it was way past lunch time. I readily agreed.
So off we went. Apparently, the seaside restaurants were not open yet somehow but this part of the city was not all about the restaurants. In fact, it gives a sweeping view of the Manila Bay from across the distance.
You see, we should be thankful that we do have beautiful beaches in Malaysia. Not to mention – CLEAN.
Here, in this part of Manila, they swim with garbage.
And even fishing on garbage literally.
We walked our way off towards what we believe would be the Intramuros and the horses were still there tailing behind us and persistently 'offering' us a lift. Erkkkkk!! 
And somewhere along the way, Lizzie suddenly screamed in excitement at the sight of something.
Shakey’s Pizza!
Welcoming each visitor to Shakey’s is of course – the security guard. Each single shop and restaurant is guarded by at least one security guard in Manila.
And to my amusement, they are not assigned to keep an eye out alone but they actally do the waitressing job! You see, Manila need more guards! Not waiters! LOL
Both of us ordered not just a single meal for lunch – but a bunch of them!
And the best of all is that, in addition to the 30 bucks for errr, a free free-flow refill of drink, we only paid like 126 pesos for all of them! 126 pesos my friend! 126 pesos! LOL
And I haven’t tasted such a delicious spaghetti in a very long time.
So guys, if you come to Manila, try Shakey’s and you’ll be shown how a real pizza is you might don’t want to eat at a Pizza Hut ever again.
By then, it was beginning to rain in Manila. And we have heard so many times how rain is actually a blessing from God.
And it is especially true here in Manila. You’d see how the less fortunate aka poor people would flock outside of restaurants to offer a shade to the ‘more fortunate’ aka OKK people in the hope that these OKKs would be kind enough to give them some spare change for this little favor that they did. *OKK : Orang Kaya Kaya / Rich ppl
So… be thankful of the rain. It IS a blessing. :-)

I was actually trying to capture some picture of this little bunch of kids playing in the rain with the Manila Hotel in the background.
And before I knew, they were beginning to run over to me..
.. and dancing and doing all the funny poses. They really seemed to take pleasure in being photographed.
But of course, they don’t do it for nothing. Kids in Manila have been trained to do just about anything to get money. That is how they survive the day.
A little bit of asking around had finally led us to the the Walled City of Intramuros. With so many cars speeding on the road, I really didn’t have the guts to cross the road. As I stood there helplessly, I watched in horror as Lizzie ran across the road without the slightest bit of hesitation.
OMG. May be I should give her my balls. LOL!

Problem came when we couldn’t find our way into the walled city.
And it was even more problem we it was beginning to rain quite heavily again and we were out in the open.
Thanks God President Corazon C. Aquino died exactly one year ago.
The canopy set-up for the commemorating event had saved us from getting (further) drenched in the rain. Ohh, and look closely and tell me what the guy in blue shirt is doing. In 5 seconds from……………NOW!
Answer: Shaving. You see, Manilakers don’t really need a mirror to shave. Next time I'll bring a scissor around and cut my own hair when I'm stuck in the rain. LOL.

So, when the rain had abated a little, we continued our search for the entrance gate.
I was so glad I had decided against my idea of putting my leather shoes on earlier in the morning. Otherwise, I would have become a sorry dumbass.
[Does the sandal look familiar to you? LOL]

Apparently, the outer section of the Intramuros is dominated by a beautiful golf course.
After walking back and forth outside the fence trying to find our way in, we finally managed to find the entrance gate. Ladies and gentlemen……….
The Walled City of Intramuros!

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, Intramuros is just so spectacular both architecturally and historically. The moment you walked in past the gate, you’ll be instantly thrown into some little European city, a world different from the modern metropolitan of Manila that surrounds it.

So…….. what is it in there? You gotta follow me to the next post to find out.


Kelvin said...

I 1st time see so many junk food on one spaghetti plate~

JIPP said...

hehe. ya, one of the Shakey's uniqueness I guees.

Pu3 said...

Interesting post on Manila. :)

"We are orang utan from Sabah" = We love banana = Serve us banana


So kasihan the homeless people :(

JIPP said...

Pu3: Yeah, so kesian. Eye-opening to me.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog particularly the photos you've taken here in Manila...interesting to see my country from outsider's point of view...keep blogging jericho...lol!!!


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