10 THINGS TO DO IN MANILA, PHILLIPINES

Somebody should give me an award for becoming very diligent lately! So have you read my previous post? Well I hope it helps you in preparing the awesome Puerto Princesa trip of yours. I had blast writing the post and almost couldn’t stop even though after all the editing and writing I got quite tired, not to mention right when I come back from the Philippines, I have even more on my plates! Meetings and works so tired! Well, still manage to put the gratitude in the attitude tho!

Manila is the capital city of the Philippines and I spent my fourth day to the end of the trip here. I flew from Puerto Princesa to Manila using no other than Cebu Pacific Air, it’s a very short flight as it only took 1 hour and 20 minutes, almost like Jakarta to Bali. I flew on 10 AM and arrived on 11:20 AM, flight was smooth and sound, I had no regret flying with Cebu, not to mention, the affordableness!


I was honestly quite impressed with Manila as the city is beautiful and especially the people: filled with beautiful people with beautiful attitude and hospitality. I met no freaking annoying people on this trip and I was glad for that! Manila somehow reminded me of the mixture of Jakarta and Singapore, I don’t know, I can’t explain, you have to come and see yourself so you can understand what I mean. At certain areas it could look Jakarta-ish, some could look Singapore-ish (only Singapore is way cleaner), but generally I have always loved a country’s the downtown area!

The traffic in Manila was just okay, but comparing to Jakarta, Jakarta’s way more terrible I would love to stab myself sometimes!

I find it impossible to sum my trips on a single post but this is just the beginning before I slowly get through all the pictures and the previous posts, here is my list of the 10 things to do in Manila!

1. Eat Balut

Now this is one of the most requested thing on this trip. So many of my Instagram and blog followers asking (and expecting) me to try Balut and upload it on Instagram. Before the trip occured, I googled Balut and straight disgusted by the first picture on the “Images” bar. It’s so freaking disgusting it’s almost uneatable, but in a way, exotic X.X.

For those of you who don’t know, Balut is a fertilized duck egg with nearly-developed embryo, so yes there will be eyes, neck and even feathers! – it’s the feathers that really gets me actually -, the color might not be anything appetizing, it’s like knowing from the very first glance that this is a “oh ow” food. 

I had that moment of silence before eating it because I am still not sure but fuck it lah I am trying it! The taste was not bad at all, it’s really identical to the common egg flavor, only the texture was way more firm and chewier, almost rubber like. You’re going to hint the texture of the soft bones as it is again, the almost developed embryo.

Now I dare you to eat one!

2. Eat Purple Yam ice cream and Halo Halo
Purple Yam (ube) ice cream is Philippine’s signature ice cream, it’s highly popular there and you could find it almost everywhere! The color of this ice cream is so pretty and naturally from the purple yam, you’re gonna love it especially if you love shocking purple color. The flavor? Well I don’t know if you have tried ube before but that’s pretty much like it, it’s in between the flavor of Taro and sweet potato but it suits my palate just right. Not to mention, it’s relatively cheap as well, ranges from 20 PHP for those you can find on the street side to the more lux ones you could find it restaurants.
Even yummier when you put in on top of fresh hot waffle!

Halo-Halo

Halo Halo is Philippine’s traditional ice dessert, it’s a mix fruit dessert with shaved ice and condiments like purple yam, kidney beans, sugar palm, jackfruit, tapioca, nata de coco, milk pudding all drenched in evaporated milk and topped with purple yam ice cream. I mentioned on the previous post that I wasn’t a huge fan of this because of how rich the milk characteristic is, but it’s certainly not bad at all. I love the flavor and the texture of the purple yam puree (talking it generally, had three Halo-Halo during my trip), my favorite one was from this restaurant called ChowKing for PHP 97 (large), but I bet there’s still plenty of places that sells better Halo-Halo, it’s just that I don’t have a lot of time to browse.

3. Eat eat eat!
Pinoys are huge rice and pork eater, and when in Manila (or generally Philippines), and if you’re allowed to, eat a lot of rice and pork as together, it’s just heavenly! My trip always needs to revolve around food, that’s mandatory, even if there’s not in the itinerary, I would make it happen! I went to some of the coolest places to eat in the Philippines, mainstream or not, these are the places that you need to visit to have a culinary experience in the Philippines!

Some of the most common Pinoy food are Garlic rice, Grilled pork, Adobo (the immersion of raw food in a stock and mixed with ingredients like oregano, salt, paprika, garlic and vinegar), Chicken Inasal (grilled marinated chicken) and Sisig.

Note from a true Pinoy: having grilled pork + beer is the best and most typical Pinoys!

Mesa

Mesa is definitely one of the best restaurants I went on this trip. Mesa serves mostly Pinoy food so yes there will be Pork, Sisig and so many others with bold ingredients. Do try their grilled cuisine and their Pork Sisig (which I totally regretted for not ordering), the table next to us ordered the Pork Sisig and it smelled so goddamn good I wanna cry, but we had so much on the table already all that we could do was to stare.

Aside from that, I wasn’t disappointed at all with the food I ordered! I chose their signature soup (Chicken Binakol, PHP 260), Grilled Liempo (Classic Grilled Pork Belly, PHP 195), and Crispy Boneless Pata (PHP 505). The soup was my favorite dish of the night! Chicken was so tender and the soup was seasoned just perfectly. I was expecting more from the Grilled Liempo as I thought it was a tad dry and lack of seasoning, but the Crispy Boneless Pata was a total revenge, so damn crispy with juicy fats and meat, then dressed in generous amount of deep fried garlic! Must try.

Mesa
Greenbelt 5
Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

Casa Roces





Another must visit restaurant in Manila, Casa Roces! The appearance of this restaurant was really beautiful, in a way very vintage and colonial but still something very sophisticated about it. It’s located right across the fabulous Malacanan Palace in the elite area of Manila. They’re serving mostly western food here, tried some of them and got highly impressed. As simple as their Fetuccinne Alfredo was great: creamy and flavorful without making you feel bloated or nauxious. I was also fond of their Pan Seared Barramundi, so juicy, silky, smooth with light seasoning. Drool!

Casa Roces
1153 JP Laurel cor Aguado
St. San Miguel, Aguado St, Manila
+63 2735 5896

Jolibee

Jolibee is nothing fantastic but if you’re a first timer and you’re THAT curious about the flavor of this fried chicken then you should come and try. I prefer KFC way more than Jolibee actually, (nothing beats KFC!), the chicken was nicely cooked but the I was expecting the flavor to be bolder, to be completely honest, it’s just for the sake of how it tasted and I didn’t expect much, but just like KFC, Jolibee is easy to find in Manila and you can find it almost everywhere, whether on the blocks, on the side or inside the mall.

Gerry’s Grill
Gerry’s Grill is also one of the top restaurants in Manila judging from its fame and number of outlets. The menu was pretty much like Mesa, they’re serving local Pinoy food as well, but as in overall I still root for Mesa more, but you do have to try Gerry’s Grill version of Sisig and the steamed fish wrapped in leaves.

But generally, I love the way they cook the rice, they steam it nicely and trust me, I eat so many rice I couldn’t help it T________T.

4. Intramuros and Church expedition


One of the must visited area in Manila is definitely Intramuros. It’s the fort area in Manila and is still rich with the colonial values. Philippines used to be colonized by the Spain and it reflects on the architecture of the buildings and even to the surnames! Most Pinoys names are cool and gorgeous but mostly westernized , but that doesn’t mean everyone’s using the western first or surname, just mostly.



When you’re in Intramuros, one of the attractions of the area is the churches, Cathedral and San Agustin churches are two of the most popular in that area, 80% of the population in the Philippines are Catholic so that should make sense. The architecture of the churches there were gorgeous! I enjoyed looking at it and of course...took pictures of it! It looked like those churches in the Italy with the vintage design and retro look, ok never been there before but I’ve seen it on the TVs so I get the picture ok!

Look at the details!



How do you spell GRAND?
Another beautiful church in Manila is this one called the Las Pinas or Bamboo Organ Church, it might not be located in Intramuros but that doesn’t neccesarily translate the beauty to be underrated, it’s still very vintage and classic but beautiful with stones decorating the whole interior.


5. Go to Mall of Asia



SM Mall of Asia (or more known as simply Mall of Asia) is the third largest shopping mall in Asia and the fourth in the world, for some, this is one “large” achievement and enough reason to check this mall out. They have the largest Watsons I’ve entered in my life, Chef Tony’s Popcorn outlet where you can buy (what proclaimed as) the best popcorns in the Philippines, and so many other outlets, but I am mostly interested in the F&B ones!

Chef Tony’s Popcorn is one of the must buys! They have very yummy crispy buttery popcorns, my favorite one gotta be the “Original Caramel”. I regret buying only one because my baggage had no capacity left ;””(.

Cinnabon, the famous cinnamon roll chain!

6. Shopping!
Here in Manila, there are several well known shopping areas which are quite popular with the locals but the town of them should be the Greenbelt and Greenhills. To put things easy, Greenbelt is the more upscale shopping area while Greenhills is the more affordable one. Greenbelt consist of five shopping buildings: Greenbelt 1 until 5, and Greenbelt is the perfect place to go when you’re in desperate need of high end fashion brands as they have names like Hermes, Gucci, Prada and a lotta more, but that doesn’t mean that everything is ultra fancy here, you can also spot some other mid-range brands like MUJI and not to mention, various places to eat. I mentioned above that MESA, the famous Phillipine’s restaurant is located in Greenbelt 5.





For some reasons, Greenhills remind me of the mixture of ITC Mangga Dua, Pasar Baroe with a little touch of La Codefin Kemang (only Jakartans understand what I mean) and here you could find a lot more affordable fashion, food and everyday needs outlets. Located just across the Greenhills is where you can go for more various shopping experience and that leads us to the numero 7!

7. Go to Manila’s Flea Market
Flea markets are indoor markets selling various of stuffs from fashion, food, accesories,  gadgets, handcrafts and pearls. I went the one located in the Greenhills and Theatre Shopping Mall. This particular flea market honestly reminded me of the ambiance and atmosphere in ITC Mangga Dua in Jakarta. They sell branded fashion items, but just so you know, they’re not real so don’t let them fool ya.
It might be too crowded and uncomfortable for some remembering how packed the place will be, but if you’re a true shopper and wanted to dig in the best deals, you should come! The prices are good and the quality is decent.


8. Experience the sky city landscape from the Manila's City Star Giant Ferris Wheel
One of the best ways to enjoy Manila’s city landscape is to take the Manila Giant Star Ferris Wheel located in Star City complex around the Pasay City, Seaside Boulevard and close to the famous Mall of Asia. Once you reach the peak of the rotation – 205 feet above the surface -, your eyes are going to be pleasured by the adorable city view. The Giant Star Ferris Wheel has 32 air-conditions wheels and could accomodate up to six people in single wheel.

Star City is an entertainment playground complex featuring a lot of exciting stations and rides like Winter Funland, Dino Island, Star Theater, Rollercoasters and Go Kart. A family weekend should worth every second here.

9. Go to Malacanan Palace
I honestly think a first timer should visit the touristy places just to know and experience how a place or an area looks, each country definitely has touristy places but I don’t know if they know, the touristy places are mostly amazing in physical appearance and value it brings, remember this, they’re famous a reason right?
My visit to Malacanan Palace was one of the highlights of my trip. I might not be the most expressive when it comes to showing how excited I am about a place (even though sometimes I do and I do it shamelessly) but I knew I loved it. Malacanan Palace was really beautiful, grand, classic, original, valueable and some other gorgeous things I can’t emphasize enough. 
Unfortunately no cameras and no pictures were allowed inside so I couldn’t really show you the inside part of the palace, but what I could tell you, the palace has many rooms and each was designed beautifully with majority of wood application. They also have private museum and huge library showcasing the original items which used to belong to the former presidents.

10. Go to Manila’s Ocean Park
If Jakarta has Sea World, Manila has their very own Ocean Park. The Ocean Park mostly consist of oceanarium area and divided into several areas: the main oceanarium area featuring wide range of underwater creations, the Snow Village area, the fish spa and the dining areas. It was my first experience having the fish spa and OMG it was very ticklish! The small fish gather around your foot and (rumor has it) they eat your dead skin cells which then proceed to make me think...




So I have so many dead skin cells on my foot? *sigh* Because there were like A LOT!

They also have this area called Snow Village, not that spacious but you could experience how it feels to be in somewhere cold like northpole (for some reasons I believe the north pole is way colder than this), if you know you’re going here, wear long jeans and thicker clothes because I didn’t and I couldn’t stand so long inside.

They also have a great place to eat in the Ocean Park and it’s called Makan Makan. To be frank, it’s one of the best dining places I went on this trip, they have the best Laksa I’ve ever had in life yet.

Additionals:
Bond with the locals and experience riding the Jeepneys.
To be honest, I didn’t do it because everything was organized comfortably by the kind team but I actually wanted to bond with the locals and try the Jeepneys, shouldn’t be bad.

And talk about the Jeepneys, I was surprised (in a good way) that Pinoys are very neat and patient in queueing, I didn’t know if they’re grumpy or not inside leh but as least they didn’t show it which was good.


Go to the Jeepney factory (if you’re interested)


Not far from the Organ Church, there’s this Jeepney factory you could go to, the name is SARAO which by the way the name of the owner. Looking at the Jeepney’s modification process was exciting enough, especially each and every Jeepneys are designed differently depending on the customers request J.

This post doesn’t emphasize enough or do much justice to describe the beauty of Manila and I believe I couldn’t because the best things ar felt and you should to and experience all the splendid things I’ve mentioned above!


My visit to Manila was such an eye opener just like most of my travelling stories. Travelling is indeed something that you buy that would make you richer! It’s never too late to open up to the world and learn from them and yes, travelling has taught me so much, if it’s good, be grateful for it, if it’s bad, it’s an experience.

THANK YOU CEBU PACIFIC AIR FOR ONE OF THE GREATEST TRIPS IN MY LIFE AND PHILLIPINE, YOU ARE FREAKING AMAZING! I MISS YOU SO!

Still have plenty of posts to write about my Philippine trip! See you on the next posts! Glad you enjoy reading!

The Philippines’ largest airline, Cebu Pacific Air flies from Jakarta to Manila four times weekly, and from Denpasar to Manila  twice weekly. Lowest year-round fares to to Manila start at USD 99. From the same Manila Airport Terminal 3, passengers can easily connect to 33 other destinations in the widest network in the Philippines.  For more details, visit www.cebupacificair.com or follow @CebuPacificAir on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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