Kumusta Ka* from Manila

*”How are you?” in Tagalog

I didn’t have a good sleep on my first night cos I don’t sleep well on my first night anywhere. I am a very light sleeper so a little noise or movement will wake me up. It doesn’t help that I am kind of disturbed by some little brownish spots on the curtains. They looked like bloodstains to me…yucks….I really gotta quit thinking of such rubbish.

Day 2:

My colleague Tita came by the hotel to pick me up to go to the office. Due to super bad traffic, we reached the office about an hour later. I had chosen to stay in Makati City instead of near the office because my customers are staying in Makati City. Its more convenient for me.

Traffic is really horrendous. I heard its even worse during the flooding last week. Tita and some colleagues got stuck in the traffic for 4 hours from the office to their homes. That’s terrible!

Along the way, I noticed some very colourful mini bus look-a-like. Apparantly this is a common mode of transport known as a Jeepney. The seats are two long planks against the left and right side of the vehicle and the entrance/ exit is at the back. I think its quite hot inside and the only “aircon” you get is the smoke and more smoke from the surrounding cars’ fumes. Most of them have very colourful exteriors with sceneries of the beach or just patterns. They have similar looking jeepneys in the beach towns of Thailand like Pattaya and Phuket but the Manila ones are more colourful and shorter in height. Not too good for claustrophobic folks.

Back of a Jeepney

Side View of Jeepney

I also noticed that at the back of every cabs and some buses, there will be a “How’s My Driving?” remark and the telephone numbers of the cab company. I wonder if there are any tourists so goon to think that this is a survey and actually called the number cos the question says so. Haha…I should give people more credit….

The morning passed really quickly, we had some discussions and before you realised, its lunch time.

We went to this restaurant called Dencio which sells Filipino cuisine.

I browsed through the menu and luckily the dishes looked quite “safe”, meaning it’s not some “exotic” fare like bats or some chick-in-the-egg kind of stuff. I let my colleagues do the ordering. I just sit there and prepare to fill up my stomach later..hehe..

Filipinos are very friendly people. Every shop or restauarant you enter, they will greet you with a smile. Its always “Good Morning/ Afternoon/ Evening, Mam”. So polite and nice….

My Filipino colleagues!!

Me and my colleagues

Here’s what they had ordered…..

The Sinigang na Ulong Norwegian Salmon is just salmon head and vegetables in a tamarind broth. The soup tingles the tastebuds with its slightly sourish taste. It’s like Tom Yam minus the spice.

Salmon and Veg Soup

The seafood dishes were good too. The Gambas (shrimps in garlic chilli and spices) were fresh and succulent but they can go easy on the oil. The shrimps were practically floating on oil. The Calamares (deep fried squid) has a unique taste unlike most calamari that I’d tried. I think it has a bit of spice mixed in the flour batter. I can just eat it without dipping in the tartar sauce.

Gambas

Calamares

I luv mushrooms so I MUST order the Sizzling Mushrooms. These huge button mushrooms are sauteed in a creamy butter sauce and is served on a sizzling hot plate.

Sizzling Mushrooms
Another sizzling hot plate delight is the Sisig. This is very sinful stuff. It’s actually minced crispy pork jowls (meat from the pork’s head area) with eggs and shallots on a hot place. Sprinkle some lime on it and you get a very addictive dish. I am still thinking about it now…….

Sisig
The next dish is THE killer. If the Sisig is a hot plate of sin, the Krispy Pata (deep fried pork knuckles) is the MOTHER of all sins!! Each chunk of meat is surrounded by a thick and crispy pork skin. You can feel the crispy skin crackle at each bite. The crispy skin and tender juciy meat is to die for. That’s right, you eat too much of these, you’ll definitely die.

Krispy Pata
The Sago Gulaman is a delightful and refreshing drink made out of crushed ice, syrup and some sort of jelly. The drink is sweet and taste just like the Chin Chow (grass jelly) drink back home.

Sago Gulaman

After lunch, the rest went back to the office, while I proceed to the port area. The sights along the way are quite different from Makati City which is more modern since its like a business hub.

People selling food or other small items such as table cloths on the main road is quite common. These people do not just peddle their stuff on the streets, they would approach every car stuck in traffic, knocking on their windows and hoping someone would buy something from them.

We passed by Rizal Park, along Roxas Boulevard. My colleague told me that this park was the site for someone called Jose Rizal who was shot there. Hence they built a monument in remembrance of this national hero.

Rizal Park

My colleague also told me that there are several squatters near the port area. I noticed that the buildings looked much older as we drove closer to the port area.

Old Buildings

This isn’t some beach town secenery. It is actually a squatter settlement along the coast.

Squatter Settlement along the Coast

It is definitely a huge contrast between the modern malls and buildings in Makarti City and the area near the port. The buildings are very old and dilapilated with clothes hanging from make-shift poles/ wires attached to the windows. Traffic is equally crazy with jeepneys and “trishaws” (a bike with a small 1-2 seater cabin attached to it) all over the places.

Example of a “Trishaw” carrying gas tanks

These shops selling shoes, clothes and electronic products are quite common along the streets. Each shop unit is a small enclosure, some with a wooden plank as a roof.

We drove past some squatter areas. At each doorway, there is a “Welcome” sign and a name below (probably the name of the family living there?). Needless to say, the interior must be very cramped and stiffling.

“Trishaws” parked along the wall

I didn’t stay long at the warehouse and port. Was there for about an hour plus and we made our way back to the office.
Makati City
I am lucky to stay in Makati City because my customers are staying in that area. Otherwise, my company would have put me up at a hotel near the office.

Hard Rock Cafe

I am surrounded by huge shopping malls that’s every shoppers’ dream. So many stores but so little time and of course, money. Sigh…

My hotel is next to SM Mall. I think the SM here stands for “Supermarket”. Add an “and”, it becomes a totally different kind of mall…hehe…

SM Mall
Directly opposite my hotel is Glorietta, another huge shopping mall.

There are numerous and I really mean aplenty of restaurants inside Glorietta. One popular fast food joint is “Jollibee”. I remembered Singapore used to have “Jollibee” and that’s donkey years ago. If I can recall, there’s one branch in Rozy Square. Anyway, for some reason, “Jollibee” never really took off in Singapore.

Shopaholics would worshipped this place. There are so many shops and the prices are quite reasonable. I just don’t have much time to walk around plus I am usually very tired by evening time.

Inside Glorietta

Supermarket in SM Mall

Spotted this stall selling grilled chicken at the entrance of the supermarket. They even have one lady dressed in a chicken suit and singing some funny song to get people to patronise the stall.

Its hard to take pictures because there are security guards walking around. There are checks done on every customer in all the malls. The guard will have to check your bag and scan you all over before letting you in. But i fell that it had become a routine that they don’t really check that throughly the way they are supposed to. In some instances, I opened my bag, they just took a glance and let me in. If this is what they defined as “checking”, they might as well just scrapped the whole process.

Filipinos have a sweet tooth. There are many times I have to pull myself away from these brownies and other mouth watering yummies. They seemed to pop up at every nook and corner! Its driving me nuts because the chocolate and the cakes and the candies look so inviting. They’re luring me to eat them….UURRGGHH!!!

They like to decorate these goodies with such pretty colours. How can you resist them?!!!
Look at these!! Candied apples coated with chocolate sauce, chocolate buttons and rainbow sprinkles. How I wish they are colourful balls which I can hang them on my Christmas tree. I am saying this cos I don’t really like apples…haha!

Candies Apples

I thought Krispy Kreme is THE doughnut until I found this……
My colleague Aimee mentioned that these donuts from “Go Nuts Donuts” are better than Krispy Kreme and boy was she right! They are a lot better because they have got more unique flavours and they even have a lite version, supposedly with lesser calories and fat. The best part is, they are a hell lot cheaper than Krispy Kreme. Each doughnut is about SGD 0.50.
I agree with their slogan, that is, this stuff is “Insanely Good”!!

Okay, I have to stop typing now. If I go on further, I’ll dehydrate….. cos I’d drooled too much!!!

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