Saturday, March 26, 2011

Manila @ Philippines

Popped by to Philippines city, Manila on the weekend via SQ - its was estimated around a 3.5 hours journey. You can also go via budget using JetAsia (but the price does not differ much but have very good flight timings if I did not remember wrongly) or via Tiger ( which offers a good price) .

Today I shall share with you my itinery for the 3 days I was there.

On the first day, with the recommendation of our Pan Pacific hotel, we made our way down to the largest mall in Manilla - Mall of Asia.
What greeted me in the center of the mall was.......... an indoors ice-skating ring!

It was such an amazing idea. You can view your children from the side.

Other than the ice-skating ring, the mall was a delight to be in. It felt like a bigger version of vivocity. I bought alot of clothes and books. The new books from the shops were only 299 pesos = less than S$10! And it was the latest books that I wanted to buy.

The foreign brands however was surprisingly the same or even pricier than back home. My favorite local brand clothes were kamiseta - but it was also costly. However thankfully, the time when I was there, there were alot of sales and discounts going on - I grabbed many bags of clothes and shoes. Love!

Kamiseta has an online store however the clothes available on it are not as nice - and what attracted me to the store was the decor - it was like a fairyland and the clothes in it was somewhat light bluish, pink, sailor stripes blue and red - something quite hard to find in shops.

After close to 4 hours of shopping, we decided on filippino food for lunch and was recommended the below.
Though it offered me a selection of local food and desserts however as it was not heated, alot of things were cold. It was not cheap either. It cost around 500 pesos(around S$15) per person. It was a buffet style. Its a good introduction though.

A brief introduction to filipino crusine
Philippine cuisine consists of the foods, preparation methods and eating customs found in the Philippines. The style of cooking and the foods associated with it have evolved over several centuries from its Austronesian origins to a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences adapted to indigenous ingredients and the local palate.

Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the elaborate paellas and cocidos created for fiestas. Popular dishes include lechón (whole roasted pig), longganisa (Philippine sausage), tapa (cured beef), torta (omelette), adobo (chicken and/or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce, or cooked until dry), kaldereta (meat in tomato sauce stew), mechado (larded beef in soy and tomato sauce), pochero (beef in bananas and tomato sauce), afritada (chicken and/or pork simmered in a tomato sauce with vegetables), kare-kare (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), crispy pata (deep-fried pig's leg), hamonado (pork sweetened in pineapple sauce), sinigang (meat or seafood in sour broth), pancit (noodles), and lumpia (fresh or fried spring rolls).

The one I tried first :Monggo Soup with Tinapa ( a kind of small fish in philippine)
also known in our terms as (Mung Bean Soup)It was so salty. But I heard its good for health.

Next was their famous Pork bits.

Bringhe is referred to as the Pinoy adaptation of paella. It is also said that it originates in Pampanga. Bringhe is made up of glutinous rice with chicken cooked in coconut milk, flavored and tinted yellow with turmeric. It is usually serve on special occasions like Fiesta celebration and during Christmas season.

The sausages are flavoured with indigenous spices, with each region having its own specialty. Among others, Lucban is known for its garlicky longanizas (derecado); Guagua for its salty, almost sour, longanizas. Longganisang hamonado (Spanish: longaniza jamonada), by contrast, is known for its distinctive sweet taste. - not really for me though.

Tapang Kalabaw which is supposedly water buffalo beef. This was my favorite. It tastes a little like charsiew except juicier.

Pata Cocido

Dinuguan Pork Blood stew that I did not dare to try. This dish is so named bacause the sauce is made with the blood of a freshly-slaughtered pig. Traditionally cooked using a mixture of pork belly meat and pork entrails.

Paksiw na lechon
The national food of the Philippines, lechon refers to a whole pig roasted over live coals. Best eaten while the rind is still crisp, with the sweet-sour liver dunking sauce on the side, lechon does not taste so good after reheating. The most popular way of serving leftover lechon is by cooking them as a stew–paksiw.Paksiw is the generic name for stews made with vinegar. To make paksiw na lechon, the meat is slow-cooked in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, bay leaves, sugar, salt and whatever leftover liver sauce there is.

Ginisang Spinach - River Spinach

Bopis -is a spicy Filipino dish of pork lungs and heart sautéed in tomatoes, chilies and onions.

Pancit Canton - Its the version of Chinese Chow Mein. - I think ours is nicer though.

Sampelot - it tastes like bobocharchar

Bico - Sweet rice

Kamito salad -

After eating our fill, we made our way to the nearby hypermart to stock up on local products to bring back for friends and their children. I bought back the famous Cebu and 7D dried mangoes ( Which I would had bought boxes of it if I could - its so sweet and nice!) , their tamarind sweets ( I like theirs. It has abit of chilli taste in it - like the mexico ones) , their local peanut chocolate and guess what - ring pop and push-pop to giveaway.

And at night, we made our way to Greenbelt - the paragon like district of Manila. They have many buildings 1,2,3,4,5 and I think 6.

We were recommended to this restaurant and it was a fantastic local meal, though expectedly much more costly.
Fely J Kitchen : Greenbelt 5, Makati - to make reservation: 7288878
Some photos below. Did not manage to take all.

Sweet and sour fish - crispy outside and tender inside. I like.

Rice with Ikan Bilis like fish - the rice is a little sticky. Love it.

My friend loved this intestines fried look-alike wantons. It is usually a snack Filipinos eat with beer.

The must-try Guava pie - very unique taste.

After the great meal, we proceeded to Strumms - a live music pub. A must-do in Philippines. Very enjoyable and they have very good singers.
110 Jupiter St., Bel-Air, Makati
Telephone nos. 895-4636 / 890-1054

The next day morning, we picked a map from the hotel and decide to do some exploring. The hotel however had advised against wandering too much. Fortunately being Asians, we look like them as long as we don't attract too much attention to ourselves. -

We made our way to Roxas Boulevard - the walkway beside the sea for morning walk.

We saw freelance masseurs there and decided to give it a try since there were many locals doing it as well - it should be good. And yes it was ! Reasonable price and good!

Further exploration led us to the street stalls, the daily transportation and more.

A sign that reminded the passengers in cars to put on their seatbelts.

The numerous different kind of transportations that they have.
Local Bus transport - the routes are on the side

I wonder if its illegal but in most developing countries, there will be peddlers selling their hardwares on the road while the traffic light is red. In Manila, the peddlers were selling cigarettes, windscreen shields, sunglasses and more. ( To me, I think its a good way to keep them employed - at least they bother to earn a living for themselves - commendable to me. Better than those who try and beg for money when have their legs and hands - really no respect for these.

In the noon, while the rest were doing their spa massages, I decide to explore Intramuros ( A famous sight-seeing place in Manila) by myself on foot. And it was such a worthwhile trip. The meaning of Intramurous " Within the walls" gives you a clear preview of how you would feel about entering the vicinity.

If you plan on walking, just follow Roxas Boulevard and walk all the way straight till you see a pizza place ( i think it was dominos) then turn to your right and ask directions from there. It takes one hour or so to get there from Pan Pacific.

If you plan on taking their Light Rail Transit – LRT
Get off at the United Nations Station.
From here it is only a 20 to 25 minute stroll to the gates of Intramuros.

The construction of Intramuros started in 1571 by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, a Spaniard. The walled city covers an area of about 160 acres. Intramuros was a fortress city with walls 6 metres high and a commanding 3 kilometres in length, it is no wonder it was impenetrable. Only the Spanish elite and Mestizos (mixed race) were permitted to live inside Intramuros, where at night the city gates were locked down. The natives and Chinese were not permitted to live inside the walled fortress and were resigned to live outside the great walls of Intramuros.

Intramuros was designed with 51 blocks within the vast walls, the only access in or out of Intramuros was via seven fortified gates. A moat around the walled city was added in 1603. Spread throughout the 51 blocks of the city were 12 churches, hospitals, domestic accommodation, military barracks, Governors Palace and schools.
Intramuros came under attack on many occasion. The Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese and the Sulu pirates all had a go and trying to take Intramuros by force, however they were never successful.

Intramuros served as the center of political, military and religious power of the Spaniards during the time that the Philippines were a colony of Spain.
During World War II, Intramuros was used by the Japanese as their garrison and prison. It was severely damaged, along with most parts of Manila, during the Allied bombings to liberate the city from Japanese occupation. The US Administration filled the moat in to prevent the onset of disease.
At present, Intramuros is the only district of Manila where old Spanish-era influences were retained.

Upon entering Intramurous, one has to walk quite a distance to the famous Fort Santiago - however its totally worth it. And the sights along the way is good for picture-taking. You can however also take a taxi in. Or even better - take their local small car!

First up: The stone roads ( reminded me of the get away towns in Mexico )

And along the way, my favorite! - spray art.

After walking for quite some time, finally I saw the gate to the entrance of Fort Santiago. The ticket price was around 75 pesos for adult.

On the way back to my hotel, I grabbed my 2 favorite philippine snack - The Halo Halo dessert and their sour mango with Chilli salt. Yummy!

The at night, we mentioned that we wanted to do some local discounted shopping and someone local recommended Greenhills. (It was 1 hour drive away from Makati - in a jam it could be 1.5 hours) - somewhere in the outskirts
Personally however, found that the robinson shopping center near by hotel had cheaper and better quality clothes. The price at Greenhills for a blouse range from $300 to $500 - thats like Singapore price. Well, but the our local friend told us that the locals go there because they are able to get huge discounts hence it makes it good for them. The good thing about the place is however to buy local handmade products or display pieces - its not expensive.

On the last day, before we made our way to the airport, we made sure to check out the Resorts World in Manila. It is free entry ! ( haha) It was my first time in a casino and it was interesting seeing how many varieties of gambling - there's big small, black jack, jackpot, throw the ball one, poker etc etc and to observe the face of the gamblers. Interesting! There was also a stage with live singing -in the center of the pub- very nice design!

What I missed this time was the markets that fell on Saturdays and Sundays at Intramuros and Greenbelt respectively. Shall see if I manage to catch it another time.

Goodbye Manila. See you soon!

Oh before I forget! Remember to save 750 pesos for the airport tax!

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