How To Fall In Love With Manila?
Do you know the feeling when you’re so engrossed in something then suddenly, it’s gone? That’s how we’ve been feeling about traveling. I think our last real out-of-town trip was Palawan back in March. It was also one of our favorites. I could say that in the three full days we were there, we were able to unplug, be in the moment. I got to be intentional with myself, my child, my partner, my family.
These days, I miss the sun on my face, the wind blowing through my hair as Bobby takes the wheel and drives us to who-knows-where. I miss not having a plan, and venturing out with our son, with the uncertainty of things exciting us.
It’s in those moments we learn from the most.
With the -BER months in, and work at its busiest, we’re chained to our responsibilities. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (we know our priorities), but we’re getting travel withdrawal. I remember Bobby joking how being out of the city was his personal rehab. He literally goes through a process of re-centering whenever he’s out… but when he comes back to the city, it literally takes him a few days before he reverts back to his tired, exhausted, burnt-out self.
I can relate, tho. I try to be intentional in everything I do. I fall down, get back up. That’s the cycle. But when I’m out of the city — even if it’s just Rizal or Pampanga, I feel so energized. I feel closer to where we want to be in, eventually.
I think stuck is an understatement. Whatever sh*t we’re feeling, we know that going out of Metro Manila is the cure. But since we’re in this [seemingly] black hole, we’re actively searching for things in the city to ignite the same spark, the same joy we feel whenever we’re at a province.
Here’s how we’re coping with the travel slump. Hoping these things will teach you a thing (or two) on how to have more appreciation for the country’s capital region.
FOOD TRIPS and street food
Who can say no to foodtrips? Exploring food is like traveling to where each meal, each dish came, or was inspired, from. With each bite, you learn more about its origins ~ why the combination of flavors? What inspired a dish? Who developed it and what was s/he thinking? Why put a quail egg in the middle of the siomai?
I never used to love going on foodtrips, but being with an aspiring chef, who loves exploring the world with his palette, got me hooked. Bobby educates Yñigo too whenever we go out! Whether it’s a restaurant, or re-visiting our childhood favorites, Manila isn’t as dull with all the food selections we have.
Another thing we love about the Philippines, especially in Manila is the amount of street food we have. I mean, from what we learned - each place has its own identifier in terms of street food. In Pangasinan, we love Tupeg. In Abra, we can’t forget about the 25-peso Pancit Miki. Here in the Metro, we have isaw, kwek-kwek, fishballs, siomai and a variety of things we can try. One Sunday, try to go out and see if there’s a nearby isaw-an near! For a P 100, you’ll be full! Promise.
TAKE RANDOM CAR RIDES
Bobby’s only free on Sundays so lately, we’ve been having a hard time planning out-of-town trips. But he never fails to excite us when he takes us out for a drive.
He finds peace and solace in driving.
Driving (without traffic) for Bobby is like his stress-reliever. He just wants to drive. Without the help of Waze or Google Maps, ah.
He makes it a habit that when we have time, money and gas to spare, we’d go out and see what places we find along the way. We just decide - North or South - and from there, he makes his way through clear highways, small eskinitas and I sh*t you not, we always end up discovering something new.
I remember this one drive we took (which I’ll share more about in a separate post) where we ended up in this small mountain with such a serene view. We also passed by some small rice terraces and palayans. We live in the boundary of Fairview and Bulacan so yeah, it’s kinda “cheating” — but on a Sunday, it’ll probably take you an hour or two from the Metro to go to our area.
We discovered so much things we never knew existed here — and to think it’s technically in our backyard! There’s these super good bahay kubo restaurant we went to. Oh, we also discovered P 20 chicken which was better than any of our fastfood chains.
Driving without a destination in mind, or an itinerary to follow, will make you stumble upon the hidden gems of Metro Manila.
visit a park (eco park, theme park)
There are a lot of parks that you can visit within (or near) Metro Manila. We live near La Mesa Eco Park so when we can, we go. Sundays are the worst though considering everyone is there - and they’re not really responsible citizens of the Earth. I don’t get why Filipinos don’t know how to properly dispose their trash… I mean, it’s common sense. Going back, the La Mesa Eco Park is a lovely place to visit especially if you want your kids to have a good time. If you chance upon it without that much people, the kiddos will have enough space to run. You can also trek, bike around, and learn about the different tree species growing there. There’s also food (dirty ice cream, taho for the win), a boating pavilion and orchidarium.
The Philippines’ Disneyland
If you’re not into nature stuff, then you should definitely go to Enchanted Kingdom a.k.a the Philippines’ Disneyland. It’s only an hour or two from Makati — so it’s technically still feels city-like. I haven’t brought Ynigo in because we felt like he won’t be able to do much at his age. But for some parents, millennials like us, it’s always going to be the O.G. barkada tambayan.
VISIT MANILA (LIKE MANILA, MANILA)
Living in Fairview practically means every trip around the city is a roadtrip. Again, whenever we have time to spare, we go to places that fills the history junkie in Bobby, and the avid learner in me. Bobby used to live in the Pasay / Manila area - which means he knows all the museums we can go to, all the spots we can try out. I guess one of our favorites in Intramuros because there is so much going on there.
It brings you back to the old days - where things were much more serene and simpler.
the groceries here are like mini-field trips with each visit
Ever since I was a kid, I always loved going to the grocery with my mom. So now that I’m a parent, I do the same with my own child. Let me tell you — a trip to the grocery is one of Yñigo’s favorite things to do now. He identifies food, he sees fruits and veggies he’s been learning from home and at school. Plus, he can run around while I tick off stuff from my list. We normally shop at SNR or Landers - depending really on where we are, or kung ano trip namin.
What we love about SNR is its convenience since there’s a branch that we’re 10-15mins away from. Mom has always done her groceries there, so we trust SNR especially with their meat and veggies selection. Plus we also get the Neutrogena medicated shampoo I need for my eczema-prone scalp. On the other hand, Landers is full of hard-to-find products such as Earth’s Own Almond Milk, Honey Monster Puffs, Ms. Field’s Cookies, Kirin Milk Tea (waaaah my recent fave) and so much more.
your home is your haven
One thing that happens when we’re in the city is having a lot of time spent at home. We normally don’t want to succumb ourselves to the temptation of spending too much because truly, Manila is full of opportunities for you to spend. A trip to our local bookstore is all I need honestly to burn $$$$. So we take up different at activities at home to be reminiscent of our travels. Two of those things are gardening (a family affair) and journaling (a self-care thing).
On some mornings, after having a typical Filipino breakfast, Bobby and I bring Ynigo to our pocket garden so he can explore it with his senses, and learn how to take care of them.
Our Little Gardener
Apart from us all aiming to have a green thumb, we want to do things that would attract the dream life outside this ‘toxic’ city — which entails having lush lush lush gardens with crops, veggies, orchids and whatever life our earth (and soil) can sustain.
After this morning ritual, Bobby brings Ynigo to school — which marks the start of my work-at-home life. To be perfectly honest, all the work I engage in takes so much of my sanity. I mean sometimes I wonder if work will be the only thing I’ll do for the rest of my life. But whenever I feel this, I revert to my journal. If I’m not typing, I’m writing.
I have so many notebooks at home - so many paper spaces assigned to specific facets of my brain, my life.
Journaling for my Sanity
I have one to pour out my insecurities & creative frustrations, another one for my love letters to Bobby (swear I write to him a lot), one for motherhood, one for for planning out this blog, and another for reflections.
I guess that’s it for this lengthy post. Hope this helps you fall in love with Manila - the way it’s been helping us through our travel withdrawal. I mean, you can find happiness with the things around you if you WILL it, and if you open your hearts and minds to the unfamiliar, the unexpected.