manila, philippines: the first seven days

After a delay-free 23-hour journey from Oslo thru Amsterdam and Singapore to Manila, I found myself in the old grounds of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and a few steps further, among the familiar faces of my mom, dad, and my brother, who all greeted me with that filial embrace, preceded by some trace of nonrecognition of their son and brother who was away for quite some time.

This first week felt like I never went away at all, despite the new mega-malls and open-space shopping complexes built across the city. It’s the same old traffic snaking through familiar avenues. It’s the same air quality that arrests your nose and chokes your lungs. It’s the same humidity that makes you sticky just by stepping out of your front door.

Also, it’s the same good feeling you get when you’re with family and friends. It’s the same big appetite you get for food and conversations. Conversations over food. Food in conversations. Food’s everywhere every time that in a span of one week, I’m on my way to gaining what weight I lost during my time away. It’s the same weekend I spend with my family scouring shopping spaces and staking at food places. Same is good.

The Eats


From the welcome cum dad’s birthday dinner at Shangri-la Makati’s Circles buffet restaurant to a Greek version of the Philippine adobo at a Greenbelt 2 restaurant. From Jollibee’s (the Filipino McDonald’s) crispylicious Chickenjoy to my parents’ fare of fried tilapia (fish), sinigang na buto-buto (tender ribs in a tamarind soup base), inihaw na liempo (grilled porkchops) and kalabasa at sitaw combo (pumpkin and stringbean dish). From CPK’s grilled calamari, white pesto pasta with shrimp, and pizza to Max’s kare-kare (oxtail and tripe in peanut sauce and blanched vegetables) and sinigang na hipon (shrimp in a tamarind soup base). My family had brunch at the Salcedo Saturday Market and we gorged on pork barbecue (pictured above) and laing (taro root in coconut cream).

The Buys


Shopping is more exciting, more varied, and definitely cheaper in Manila than in most cities I’ve been to. With a stunted shopping spree for the last months I was in Oslo, I set out to buy everything I was planning to. White sneakers, check, thanks to a cool pair of Nike with silver and black details (pictured above). A pair of jeans, check, thanks to made-to-order designer Viktor jeans, with wicked bronze leather signature belt loops and custom-tailored cut (hello, booty!) which I’m picking up next week. Collared shirts, check, thanks to Bench and their range of slim tees (pictured above). Underwear, check, thanks to Calvin Klein and its Steel trunk brief, Bench’s ever playful take on boxers, and Speedo’s swimming trunks. Facial products, check, thanks to Dermalogica’s Face Mapping and its slew of cleanser, toner, moisturizer and sunblock.

The Tours


Aside from the side trip to Intramuros, Manila’s old walled city, where I took my Vietnamese friend from Oslo last Friday, most of the touring I’ve done this first week is to the city’s newest malls. There is something with Asians and big shopping centers. I met college buddy Cres at Trinoma (Triangle North of Manila). I met my aunt Mely for lunch at Greenbelt 2. I took Brian to lunch and Liz and Dict to dinner at Mall of Asia. I went with my family to Bonifacio High Street. The common denominators with these four malls are the open-space planning, the grand entrances, the Zen elements of water and pebbles, and installation of art in public spaces. And oh, full blast airconditioning, thank God!

The Snaps












Here’s to the next seven days!


9 Responses to “manila, philippines: the first seven days”

  1. 1 zocalo December 11, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    OMG, I’m STARVING look at these pics! Give me some calamari!!! I arrived in Oslo 3 days ago to spend xmas here. Too bad you ran away!

  2. 2 Shigeki December 12, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    I am so sure everyday in Manila is very busy for you right now as you have to take care of a lot of things but thanks for taking your time to share photos with us. The food looks so nice and it looks so warm in there….. OH! I am envious. Enjoy your holiday!

  3. 3 dazedblu December 13, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Have a nice stay here in Manila ;)

  4. 4 tricia December 15, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    omg….nagkita kyo ni liz and dict! how are they? kaw, musta na? hows manila? ang init, noh? haha. have u seen ayen, mayee, inigo? aileen said she will b there in a few days, nxt week ata or d week after that. meet kayo and send me pics….wawa naman ako….

  5. 5 Paul December 16, 2007 at 8:02 am

    Looks wonderful! Okay, next trip is definitely Manila!

  6. 6 chase December 17, 2007 at 7:03 am

    You look so fab dahling! I am waiting for the food trip once Odd is here this coming Wednesday. I dont want to get fat with all the food here!

  7. 7 RennyBA December 17, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Good to know you have landed, safe and sound!

    How great to see you in your homeland surroundings and with all your family and friends.

    Don’t you miss the crispy and fresh air in Oslo? (its – 10C tonight) :-)

  8. 8 pepe December 18, 2007 at 7:40 am

    hey, kita tayo!
    will be in manila for a day on 3rd jan :(

    lovely photos! and a cute friend *blush*


  9. 9 Mark December 18, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Hey zocalo! Did you actually see those calamari in the pan? Wow, you have superzoom vision. :) Hope you had a fun time in Oslo.

    Hi Shigeki! Thankfully, I do get one or two days of rest in between hectic touring during this holiday. I missed so many Filipino food so I’ve been gaining weight since I arrived. Ulk. :)

    Thanks, dazedblu!

    Hey Trish!!! Yeah, I met Liz and Dict na, also Bebang. I’ll meet Mayee and Inigo on Thursday. Si Ayen hindi pa, busy rin yun e. But we’ll find a time to meet each other. Sayang you’re not here, would’ve been a blast!

    Come, Paul, come. :)

    Hahaha, you tell me Chase! I’m excited for you and Odd especially since it’s his first time. Have fun you two lovebirds!

    I actually do, Renny. The air here makes me tired easily. Oh well, at least it’s warm and on the high 20’s. :p

    Pepe! I’m going back to Oslo Jan 1! Sayang!!!

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