Putting the ‘Man’ in ‘Manila’

Like all great men, I’ve decided to start where it all began. The ninth floor:

Having paid many a Peso to secure myself a shoebox in the city, I was pleasantly surprised that once I opened the balcony door I had twice the space and a view overlooking Ortigas, Manila.

It being three weeks since I first set foot in the city it is hard to remember precisely what my first impressions were but from the best of my recollection:

1. Heat.

Yep, not surprisingly Manila (and I’m told the Philippines more generally) is hot. Hot to the extent that around 24 degrees (Celsius) is the average low throughout the year, the temperature’s max peaks around April and may at around 34 degrees.

To give you ozzies a reference point Sydney’s typical max is around 24 degrees. So Manila’s min is higher than Sydney’s max. Manila could totally win in a fight.

2. Traffic.

This shouldn’t have been such a surprise to me, but there are zebra crossings littered around Ortigas which seem to have no other function than knocking the pride from westerners such as myself. Zebra crossings don’t work and cars don’t stop. On the plus side it’s like playing frogger.

This seemed like an appropriate time to show you one of the popular forms of getting around the city, a ‘jeepney’. These are everywhere and cost around 16 pesos (30 cents). The aim of the game is to pile as many people in there at once and call out ‘para’ when you want it to stop. Because they travel down specific routes you generally need to know where you’re going, which I don’t.

3. Pollution.

Yep, the air can be thick. Wikipedia tells me it’s from automobiles and industrial production.

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But the Filipinos aren’t super friendly just because I’m good-looking (gwapo). They’re (also) friendly because they know how to handle all these minor inconveniences. Firstly, unlike me they don’t complain and secondly they have malls. Lots of them. In fact there are three within walking distance of me.

They also have self-esteem with over 48 per cent of men rating themselves in the looks department. (Google Filipino men most narcissistic in Asia… no I’m not doing it for you). I personally don’t think 48 per cent is that high. In fact, having 52 per cent of men thinking they’re not attractive might explain why the nation attracts so many ugly westerners.

So those are some thought on Manila. I’m not going to stand by the quality of those thoughts, but mainly because I don’t trust my workmanship at this hour.

I will say, however, that Manila is a great city. The people are friendly, the food is cheap and down every street is something new, possibly somebody looking to mug a bald Australian (see postscript) or possibly somebody selling legitimate DVDs for 50 pesos.


That last paragraph is more a whimsical sign-off than anything else so I should clarify that in fact I’ve found Manila to be generally safe.