Cultural Philippines in the heart of Manilla


Getting Ready for Battle

I really, really love South East Asia.  Going to Manila was a huge treat.  One thing that’s always important to me whenever I visit a place is to see the place in it’s authentic beauty and warts.  I want to see the best and not best of a place.  We were staying at the amazing Shangri la hotel, one of the most beautiful hotels in Asia.  They are famous as having 5 and 6 star hotels in the big capitals in Asia.

Paul (black t-shirt) and I (in the red shirt, yes flash, and yes Big Bang Theory) were happy to pose with the staff.  Beautiful hotel.  Very posh.  We were definitely very pampered.  One thing you should know about Manila is it is very easy to spoil yourself.  Manila is very modern, and you can get anything you need.  My friend Dux Raymond Sy, who is very popular in the SharePoint community grew up in Manila.  It was great to meet his family.  Dux moved to the U.S. and if you talked with him you’d have no idea where he came from in fact he speaks perfect English.  No accent at all, and smart, very smart guy.  We were all in town for Sharing The Point Asia which would get us to China and Vietnam as well.  Fabulous tour.

We had a day in the nicer parts of Manila, and had some amazing food.  I was then very anxious to try other foods.  One early morning Michael, Dux and I escaped early to catch the sunrise over the sea.  We got up early enough we could get the first catch.  We had squid in it’s ink, prawns, and very fresh sushi.  Amazing seafood breakfast.

Another morning Michael and I would take a Jeepney, these converted army jeeps converted into a stretch bus are an amazingly cheap way to get around the city.  This was my preferred mode of transportation as I could get very up and close to the locals and the real raw experience.

There is a lot of famous food you’ll see on bizarre foods from Philippines.  The famous balut an egg that’s partially formed.  You get a beak!

A balut is a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell. Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack.

It has a hard boiled egg taste to it, and kind of like a cooked egg taste as well.

Another one to try is Century Egg an old Chinese delicacy cooked by preserving eggs for weeks or months, until they develop a dark color and pungent smell.  You might like the Salted or Pickled Duck Egg as well.  Lots of eggs to try.  China town has a big variety.

The glass noodles, and the sauces, lots of great rich foods.  The Philippines is not lacking in cultural foods.  There are lots of unique foods.  Try soup number 5.  We thought it was going to be bull testicals, but it wasn’t.  It was bull shlong.  Really you can get anything here.

Get out into the streets and get off the beaten path and you’ll start to see some things that are rich.  Jumping on a jeepney can help you discover some of these areas.  Check out the phone lines.  We jumped in a couple of Pedi-cabs.  These bicycle side car type vehicles really got us a lot closer to the people.

One amazing place I saw was a multi storied shanty town.  I couldn’t believe it, it was made out of scaffolding, tarps, ladders, pipes, plywood, and various other parts and pieces, but they had their own body guard who shoo-ed me away.

As we rode around the neighborhood, we found people getting ready for work.  We tried different morning drinks, and we ran into some cute kids.  As is common in other parts of Asia, there were a few cats roaming around… some of the cutest kittens and puppies.

There’s a rich history in Manila, and it was surprising how much English was spoken.  We really didn’t have too much of a problem diving out into the streets and even street vendors spoke English well enough that we were able to order our chicken head skewer.  They say it’s good practice to use as much of the animal you’re eating as possible.  Well in the Philippines, the skewers are quite telling as well.  In this one go, you can see intestines, kidneys, blood, gizzards, livers, and heads.  Nothing at all left.  Amazing!  Yes, I tried them all.  I wasn’t too keen on any of them, but they were quite edible.  Many of my friends tried them.  None of us got sick at all.  It proves I’ve got a pretty strong stomach.

There are some very imperial areas of Manila, and there’s a lot of history.  Tall buildings, lots of innovation.  Manila is quite the huge and beautiful city.

This shot is taken from the Microsoft Offices.  My friends and I were speaking at a Sharing The Point event, and we had a good crowd.  I highly recommend outsourcing to the Philippines.

Not only do they speak great English, they also understand the American culture quite well.  Very technical community, very friendly.  I made friends immediately.

The Philippines are a very religious country.  One of the most religious countries I’ve ever seen in fact.  The airport had religious sayings on the walls including in the bathroom!  I  ended up staying an extra day from a couple of friends, and decided I wanted to see the LDS temple in Manila.  It’s famous for being a place of refuge during the 1986 People Power Revolution a return to democracy non violent civil resistance to oust Ferdinand Marco. Quezon city where it is located is very modern has the third largest mall in the world.

While I religious people, there’s one thing that also happens on Sundays… cock fighting.  I had seen a demonstration in Bali, Indonesia, but here they have huge stadiums, coaches, and it’s a big sport.  Here a couple of coaches are showing me how it works.

They had a huge case of these sharp blades they would tape onto the Roosters.

Below this is the arena.  They are actually putting on a private show for me, cause I had to run off to the airport.  No metal, just all natural.  You can see the stadium seating.  There were large cash prizes and you could see there was really a lot of energy in the managing of these birds.

As a tourist I find there really is a couple of worlds to the Philippines.  You can decide which you want to see.  It would be very easy to stay in the nice hotel and visit the touristy colonial destinations and visit the churches, and eat amazing food… There’s volcanoes, tons of islands, lush jungles with tons of animals and some of the best and secluded beaches… LOTS to do in the Philippines.  I can’t wait to go back!

2 thoughts on “Cultural Philippines in the heart of Manilla

  1. The LDS temple in Manila looks almost identical to the one in Glenview IL. Were they built around the same time, designed by the same architect perhaps?

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