Quezon City, Manila

Cubao, Quezon City, Manila

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My first time in Manila Philippines. There are so many people here! A city with a population of 12 million. Slums right next to well built houses and shoplots. Here you can see the obvious differences between the “haves” and the “have nots”.

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Double storey concrete houses or tiny wooden shacks, all have high security fences, complete with barbed wire and/or broken shards of glass. Wonder why they emphasized so much on home security when they are so poor that the fence looked grander than the house.

Security guards are everywhere! All shopping malls, apartments, restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retail shops have armed security guards posted at the entrance. These security guards are very vigilant and checked your bags with metal detectors before you enter, and will not hesitate to pull out their guns for any suspicious activity or even just for prevention. No complacent Bangla or fat lazy sleepy guards like those found in Malaysia. All tall, fit, vigilant and well trained for combat, with their attitude they might as well be expecting some terrorist activities at any given day.

Traffic jam all over town. Tonnes of people everywhere. Long queues to board the Jeepneys (WW2 militari vehicles) and buses, even to cross the pedestrian bridge. Locals standing right in the middle of the road in heavy traffic in rush hour selling stuff to passing vehicles – peanuts, water, snacks etc. Buses , MRT, LRT, Jeepneys all jam packed, weaving in between traffic in a chaotic manner and missing each other by inches. Impressive driving skills.

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Walking along Aurora Boulevard has always been an eye opening experience. The whole wide road along the entire stretch of the boulevard is dominated by the presence of hundreds of moving Jeepneys, all colourfully painted with motives of Superheroes, Christianity motives, cartoon characters, anime or video games characters & fantasy world realms, and the like. It’s always a pleasure to admire the beautiful designs of the Jeepneys, Pinoys seem to be a creative lot.

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Php8 for 600 metres. Pay when board. Pass the money to the person sitting next to you who will pass it on to the next person and so forth until your fair reaches the driver. Just shout “Bayar” when you want to stop a Jeepney.

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Overwhelming audio, visual and olfactory attack on the streets. The loud noises of jeepney engines revving, incessant honking plus the driver’s shouting out their destinations calling out for potential passengers; chaotic traffic in every direction; the air is so polluted with thick smokes and dust and all kinds of chemicals emitted from vehicles as well as strong smelling food being cooked by the open air side street vendors everywhere.

L-R : A typical dormitory style lodging facility – about Php2000 per month, very economical but the living conditions are rather appalling; A block of shophouses

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Magandang Omaga (Good Morning), Magandang Hapon (Good afternoon) & Magandang Gabeh (Good evening). Learned 3 useful greetings from the young lift attendant. I picked up some food names too, they come in pretty handy sometimes. Isda (fish), manok (chicken), baboy (pork), baka (beef), gulai (vege), bangus (milkfish), kanin (rice). Learned some prepositions and articles too. Ang (the), at (and), bawal (no/do not). It’s interesting to learn a foreign language in a foreign land. But I’m not sure my head is big enough to store all those heavier-than-lead EMTB stuff and Tagalog as well!

L-R : Typical cafes or “mix-rice” shops, with a table or two inside for quick dining; some typical meals.

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The rain showers here are pretty erratic, when it rains, it is sudden and it pours heavily, but only lasted for 15-30 minutes probably, all it takes to flood the streets to ankle level. When it stops, the street dries up pretty quickly too. Hard to walk in the rain sharing an umbrella and nearly got my head entangled in the hundreds of horrifying electrical cables hanging (supposedly) above the heads but in reality they are almost head level! Some are very very low, need to watch out really carefully and duck your head when walking.

Took the partially shaded way back, the path lined with street vendors selling all sorts of things- shoes, bags, tshirts, little knick knacks. The little girl who managed the souvenir stall seems to fail in math…. Didn’t even know how to add 40+40. Didn’t even know the difference between 40 and 80, and looked at me in wonderment when I gave her the money due. While all the children passing by outside suddenly touched me and stretch out their hand persistently asking for money.

A trip to the local supermarket was also quite an amusement. Everything here seems to be sold in small denominations, little single serving sizes of coffee packs, tiny tuna cans, tiny soap powder packs in a stretch of 10 packs, instant noodles in singles packs, toilet rolls in single or double.… etc. I wonder how often do the locals here patron the stores, if they are buying things in such small portions.

L-R : A sari-sari store (tiny convenience store or kiosk usually run by local homemakers); Motorcycle taxis, a form of public transportation in the city.

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Walking on the streets of Cubao, there’s potential hazard everywhere. Vehicles coming from all directions, tricycles, pedestrians knocking unto you, or children touching your arms and extending their own towards your face to get money from you. Today I walked across the street from a construction side (which were not hoarded up) and the burning residues of the welding job came flying all over my head. Was so scary, like a meteor shower, but just above my head! I ran quickly to avoid getting my hair or face burned….. And almost ran face first into a hanging electrical cable! I’ve to duck hanging cables everyday while walking to and from school. It’s become a norm now.

The sky turns dark quickly after 5pm. At 5.15pm, it was already twilight. At 5.30-5.45pm, it will turn dark completely. Denver Street is kinda quiet and scary by then. Lots of half naked morons will be out playing basketball in the middle of the road. Yes, they have installed a few basketball nets in the middle of the road. When vehicle passes, they will just move to the side and then continue after the vehicle passed.

One morning I saw a woman openly breastfeeding on the stairs of the big pedestrian bridge. Wonder if she’s homeless. Or if she’s sitting there begging. But she’s not a regular for sure. There is a regular old woman sitting on the other side of the bridge, perpetually holding out her cup with her extended hand. And the cup perpetually has that same few brass coins (quarters she filled up herself every morning, I gather). The bridge stairs is crowded enough without her there. And she is effectively blocking 2 lanes – one with her sitting on it, and the other with her extended hand with cup. I almost kicked her cup everyday, while trying to navigate my legs around her and her extended arm in that crowded stairway, while trying not to knock into other pedestrians from the opposite direction!! I do this so often that I have to consciously remember that she’s there in that particular step in that particular stairway every morning!

Pics : Inside the humble home of a Pinoy family – kitchen, dining, living and bedroom all in one space, and a small home-run sari-sari store facing the front facade of the house, selling things in even smaller denominations than the supermarkets.

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A friend once told me, Philippines is the filthiest country in the world. I can’t say if it is, but I’ve seen my share of filth during my stay here. Air is filthy, roads are filthy, people are filthy. I’ve asked a local if it is the same everywhere else other than Quezon City, he said it is like this in most cities, but rural and mountain areas will have cleaner air (but not sure about the people and the roads). I’ve always heard that Philipines (which is made up of 5000 islands) has the most beautiful and white clean beaches. I find that hard to imagine, being stranded in the heavily polluted and filthy city centre.

Walking into Denver Street, which is always full of pee smell, I saw the perp, or the “contributor” of at least some of those disgustingly nauseating smell, red handed in action. He was just happily peeing up the pole, just like a dog! Omg. And this is a city centre. It’s truly appalling.

It seems that I see people peeing all over the streets almost on a daily basis. The mentality is still so primitive here. Does it take a lot of education to know that peeing should be a business done in the comfort room?? Come on guys, we are in a big city here, not in a jungle where everywhere is your toilet. But then again, there are also as many people living on the streets, with their self made tents or stacks of stuff piled up in a corner partially covered by a canvas. Or a wooden rack, functioning as a make shift bed, with a couple snuggling comfortably in each others’ arms, is not an uncommon sight here, even in the light of day. I also often see make shift stoves in the middle of the road with a boiling pot on top of it (that would be the kitchen). These are the common sights along Denver Street.

L-R : A homeless man sleeping under a tree, the big empty wall is a good example of a “peeing wall” (public toilet) – you can identify from the pungent smell from 30 metres away; Bathing a dog or a child in a similar fashion on the roads.

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Homeless people sleeping on the roadside is a common sight. Children, dirty but happy looking, running up and down the sidestreets. Naked men taking a “bath” in the open park or bushes at night. Dogs, even babies and young children taking baths from a plastic basin filled with water placed outside the sidewalk on the main busy road of Aurora Boulevard in central Cubao! (No kidding!) Right beside the roaring traffic of buses and jeepneys rushing by in peak hours.

L-R : Lunch buddies; Icy desserts on a hot afternoon

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L-R : My favourite fastfood in Manila – Taco Bells; A warm surprise birthday lunch treat 🙂

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L-R : Some local food – grilled pork, pork dumplings “siu-mai”, popiah, grilled squid (optional to serve with sisik as a side dish – non meat parts of pork – fats, skin, ears, whatever – fried in small pieces – yuck! ); Trying out fried fish balls from a mobile stall – using a stick to skewer on whichever pieces of your choice direct from the hot frying pan full of oil, then dip the skewer into whichever sauces you choose at the sides, and put direct into your mouth. Ouch! That burns!! 🙁

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Balut – the disgusting duck embryo egg that’s boiled and eaten in its shell, with vinegar or chilli. First you make a little hole on top of the shell and suck the broth out, then you peel off the shell and start eating the disgusting contents – a mixture of feather, blood vessels, internal organ soups and god knows what else… I don’t want to see more details just let me get this over with! I swallowed the whole thing. Yuck! 🙁

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My favourite twin firefighters – Glaiza and Alvin, and of course, Punky the dog whose favourite pose is to rest his chin on the table or on my lap and stare at me eating with those big round and longing Puss in Boots eyes…..

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Christmas at Araneta Centre area

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Sunset at Manila Bay

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2 Responses to Quezon City, Manila

  1. Sharon Ho says:

    Somehow, I kinda like those Jeepnys. Known they were stripped down and altered by the creative locals. Metal roofs were added for shade and the vehicles decorated in vibrant colours. You don’t see those moving arts a lot these days. 2 sided small seats…i am not sure whether i like that part though, haha…knees touching, sticky skin rubbing with the strangers. *sweat*.

    Talked about the hanging crazy cables and wires on the streets! I totally know what you mean, I think I’ve seen worst in Bangkok. So dangerous and so ugly..I don’t think anyone knows which wires go where. and got to be extra careful as some are super low. Holy moo.

    Love the concept of “Sari Sari Store” Might work for me to decrease my nicotine level? Heheh. Somehow made me think of my primary school canteen…everything sell in single items.. cute though. I bought one candy every day 🙂

    Ahhh….the pee-wall scenes. I mean… seriously. I once read a comment from a foreigner, she got angry with the men pee everywhere issues. She said, “what if we women do the same thing??” lolol. I cant imagine what would happen to the country full of that smell. Men peeing everywhere is just so rampant act. The government has no control over it. All brings back to rules and regulations and implementation. Even in Malaysia. If only they can be more disciplined. I don’t like stepping on some people’s spits more than anything. Oh dear.. disgusted.

    Looks like the food look delicious from the photos. Dont mind trying all of them, what is Sisik means? But hey TOTALLY not the balut please. By the way, how the broth taste like? [:O~ oh no… gonna puke.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for all the comments. Balut is yucky no matter what other ppl says! Sisik is any parts of the pig like head or ears or liver or fats or skin… Chopped in small pieces, mixed together marinated with some sour thingy and usually fried. Thinking about it already made me lose appetite…

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