Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Weekend in Manila
20th to the 21st of January 2007

Part 1. Morning in Binondo

Written in: Poblacion, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, PHILIPPINES
Composition: Fleshed out from Notes
Previous Post: Sick Again

Despite a stomach that still wasn't 100%, I took a risk by spending the weekend of the 20th and the 21st of January in Manila.

Ate Mireille had planned a day and night out with her friends for the Saturday, and I could tag along. Originally, the plan was a weekend in Ilocos Norte. But that idea was shot down quickly because at least two days would be devoted just for driving to and from the place - two more days no one else could spare. Then Baguio - but that too didn't fly for the same same reason. Then the idea of going to Tagaytay was explored - but I was just there a few weeks prior. So, finally, it was decided why not just a weekend in Manila instead? I have only seen it passing through the windows of an airconditioned motor vehicle a few times since I landed on the 30th of November 2006. As well, during my first 15 years in the Philippines, I have only been in Manila for specific purposes; Malls for shopping, visiting relatives who lived there, special functions and events... etc. In short, this would be the first time I'd be spending time in Manila devoted solely to nothing else but to have a good time and chill. Chill as an adult, at that.

(Also, Manila as in Metro Manila, not just The City OF Manila)

Funny how this trip is forcing me to look at the things that I have and haven't done - beyond me introspecting about where I've been, where I stand now, and where I'm going.

I hitched a ride to Metro Manila with cousin Jojo in his Hilux and spent the early morning in Binondo. He treated me to a congee place in that Chinatown of the Philippines. With us was his nephew thru Ate Jellie, Miggy. Marco originally was supposed to be with us, but having sold the trusty Mini Cruiser the night before, he was in no mood to travel. ...he was also very hung over.

Binondo. What a cool place! Though our time was short, I enjoyed my time just seeing the place and walking the streets. The shops, the visible heritage of the people, and the general atmosphere lent a different feel to the place. What feel? I wanted to say a Non-Philippine 'feel' to the place, but thought "No. For that too is the Philippines" - the Chinese heritage is an indelible part of being Filipino. I also get the impression that Cousin Jojo is a bit of a Sinophile - like so many other Filipinos. 

From Binondo, I went with Ate Jellie to St. Luke's Medical Centre - where she worked as a Dietitian, and where I had arranged to be picked up by Ate Mireille. I was able to have a bit of lunch/snack before she arrived.

Now, many comedians have made a living making fun of hospital food, but the food in St. Luke's was GREAT!  Maybe because it was for staff? Maybe because it's the Dietitian's orders herself that I must enjoy good food. Whatever the case, it tasted like catered Filipino Party food.

No joke.

See - Part II: Lunch at Harbour Square


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