It’s finally Friday! You know what that means… we’ve got another locals interview to help us discover the best of another place, and to find out more about a new culture. Up this week, Manila in the Philippines is the focus!
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
Hi, I am Janice! I live in the tropical country of the Philippines. I am a corporate employee and when clocked-out, I’m a travel blogger who loves adventures and the beach. I was born in the northern part of the country until my parent’s decided that we move to the capital city which is Manila due to their work. We’ve been living here now for about 20 years.
2. What do you love most about your hometown?
I love how diverse Manila is. The culture in this city is contributed to by different countries. We’ve been colonized by the Spaniards for a long time and even the Chinese people moved to Manila, and we have embraced their cultures like it belonged to us; we celebrate Chinese New Year, our language has some of the Spanish words. This means that we are flexible in adopting cultures, and we welcome people warmly.
3. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit Manila?
It’s frustrating when people who have visited Manila tell other tourists to skip this part of the Philippines, when they only have stayed for a few hours. Yes, traffic can be crazy but Manila is more than that. There is something about this city that everyone needs to see. If you would just dwell on the negative side of the place, you won’t be blinded with its beauty.
4. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in Manila?
I highly recommend seeing the walled streets of Manila called INTRAMUROS where houses were built back in the 1800s. It’s one of the places that the country has preserved during the Spanish colonization. Whenever I come here, I kind of feel like I was living in the era of my great grandparents, like I can picture what has happened back in their time. Also, it is the only spot in the city that is not modernized.
But if you like entertainment, you should try one of those Karaokes. Filipinos love singing, it is our way to express our emotions, we sing when we’re sad or happy. It is one of the entertainments every Filipino can relate to. There’s karaoke during New Year, birthdays, weddings and most of the events have karaoke because it is a way for us to bond.
5. What foods must visitors eat when in the Philippines?
There are a lot of good Filipino foods but ADOBO should be one of the things that you need to try. Adobo has been named as the national food in the Philippines. However, if you wanna go for more exotic and extreme, I suggest trying out BALUT (Balot in Filipino). It is a developing embryo, mostly duck, which is boiled and eaten from the shell. It is mostly sold at night and you would hear the vendor literally yelling “balooooottttt” in the streets.
6. What’s your favourite Filipino word? Why? What does it mean?
Opo/Po is my favorite Filipino word, OPO means YES while PO is just a word we attach to another word. Technically, it isn’t a word but an expression that we affix to our sentences to show respect to the older people. If there is one thing that you need to learn about the Filipino language, it is the Po and Opo. You can use it even if you are speaking in English, like “YES PO“.
7. What advice would you give to somebody moving to Manila?
You have to be used to the warm weather. HAHA! Manila is warm all throughout the year unlike some other provinces in the Philippines, which would have chilly nights during December to February. Another thing to remember is, never ever say NO when they are asking you to join them for a meal because it means that they are welcoming you and counting you as a part of their family and declining it means you don’t want to connect with them.
8. If you could describe Manila in just one sentence, what would you say?
YOU ARE HOME. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity you belong to, what your age is or gender, the Filipinos are always warm to other people, we like smiling and laughing. We live our country’s tagline that is “It’s more fun in the Philippines“.
9. If tourists were to know one thing about the Filipino culture, what should that be?
During these times, there has been A LOT of news all over the world about our country’s state especially about the current government. When I was travelling in the neighboring countries here in Asia, I met a few travellers who would ask me, “HOW TRUE IS THE NEWS ABOUT MANILA?” I was kind of clueless, until they showed me one article. It was about how unsafe Manila is and about extra judicial killing. I felt sad that people would want to skip Manila just because of a news article that doesn’t really define this city. Honestly, I’ve felt safer now with the current administration because they are doing something to save and protect their countrymen. For the record, it is safe to travel in Manila.
10. Do you have any interesting traditions that you’d like to tell us about?
Most of our festivals are celebrated in the provinces, but there is one tradition that a huge number of Filipinos in Manila celebrate every year. About 90% of the Philippines are Roman Catholic and 10% would be Muslim and from other religions. This feast is about the black Nazarene procession where millions of barefoot devotees attend. This year, the procession lasted for 22 hours and about 4.5 million people attended the Traslacion (TRASLACION or transfer of the image from its original home) – about 2 million last year as per the police estimates which has doubled in 2018. The devotees would walk barefoot through the streets of Manila with the Black Nazarene with a goal that they can touch him because it is believed to grant wishes and prayers. This feast reunites not just Catholics but all Filipinos.
Thanks Janice – we’ve loved getting to know you and Manila better!
If you want to hear more from Janice, check out her travel blog: Janice in Wanderland, or follow her along on Instagram.
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