Manila – Same Same but Different

23 May
Traditional Guard - spanish style

Traditional Guard - spanish style

So I arrived in the Philippines (after some struggle with Thai Airways who made me pay my booking fee again, despite the fact I had already paid it). I can’t help but compare the Philippines (Manila) with the other countries I visited recently.

The phrase that comes to mind is ‘Same same, but different’. Indeed, there’s a similar Asian feel about the Philippines, but on the other hand you can clearly see the stamp that the Spanish & Americans left on the country.

Or as my guidebook put it: think of a Philippino as an Asian that spent 300 years in (Spanish, catholic) church and 50 years in Disneyland – very accurate!

Flyovers, underpasses, skytrains, etc

Flyovers, underpasses, skytrains, etc

Same same

  • Lots of street vendors and stalls selling yummy and cheap food
  • Everybody hangs out in the Malls because outside it’s too hot (up to 43 when i was in Manila)
  • People run around in slippers – however few are wearing shorts (afraid of the sun and getting a tan)
  • The trains fly through the sky (cheaper than digging a metro they told me), lots of traffic and you haven’t seen a traffic jam till you’ve been in Manila at rush hour
  • Aircon everywhere
  • No pictures or eating allowed in metro (well, they call it MRT or LRT here)
  • Un understandable language – even though it is English (such an accent ! )
  • Calling you for custom, chasing you, trying to get you into their tricicles
  • In restaurants you only get a spoon and fork (no knives with food)

A mass in the middle of a Manila mall !!

A mass in the middle of a Manila mall !!

But different

  • Philippinos (Pinoys) are more direct, more talkative, more sociable, outgoing (a bit American style) – socially smooth
  • They pride themselves on their local rum (Tanduay) and beer (San Miguel is Philippino, not Spanish – I didnt know)
  • Jeepneys (sort of passenger trucks) bring you everywhere – instead of songthaews (Thailand, Laos)
  • Churches everywhere (mainly catholic, but also all kinds of protestants), no mosques or temples,…
  • I even witnessed a mass in the middle of the mall !!!
  • Or a church in the middle of apark, but with bars & discos around
  • The metro has a carriage reserved for women on the mrt (metro) – that must be for a reason
  • It seems that the Philippinos have less problem with bodily contact – a guy sitting next to me on the bus litterally cuddled himself against me to sleep… (or am i imagining things???)
  • So are the Philippinos the Latinos of Asia – they seem to be more macho, straightforward, more partying,…
  • Lots of Spanish influence – in food, family names, religion, streets, architechture (e.g. Vigan)…
  • You notice they are educated in English (that’s the language in school) – which results in very Americanized adds, slogans, radio,…
  • Security guards at entrance of every mall checking bags – and even with automatic guns – there was a mall blown up a few years ago by the muslim separatists from the south
  • Here you do NOT take off your shoes in the house – the people of my hotel even offered me slippers because I was walking around barefeet (like in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam etc)
  • So much new different food – so i need to start from zero again tasting everything – tooo much – tooo nice – and more fattening than other Asian cuisines (Spanish or American influence?)
  • No more tuk-tuks (Thailand) or moto-dub (Cambodia) but tricycles and violently decorated jeepney trucks
  • Singing is a national sport, to the extent that music channels on TV are subtitled so you can learn the lyrics

Probably lots more observations to come…


2 Responses to “Manila – Same Same but Different”

  1. Wedus Indonesia 26 May 2009 at 14:10 #

    YUP, Jesus is my Hero too… wah… ur new hair so funny …. nice… like as child…. good….good….

  2. eric 27 May 2009 at 15:42 #

    We also have a bit of Belgian… Have you see the Leonidas stall in Glorietta already? In the same mall where that open air mass was held, I think.

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