Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mabuhay Manila!

(Ok, now that I'm officially back home after one week, time to clear some backlog!)

I was informed of a potential business trip to Manila in early July, but was only confirmed 2 days prior to traveling! As it was right after quarter closing, I didn’t really had time to take a break after the quarter closing. So it was a very hectic Saturday as I needed to pack, run errands and attend a dinner, then fly off on Sunday!

Together with two other colleagues, we reached Manila in the evening. Upon touching down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, we proceeded to our airport transfer to hotel. Along the way, we took the opportunity to take photos from the taxi. The driver must have been very amused as he watched three very ‘jakun’ visitors busy snapping away.

Jeepneys - Most popular form of public transportation in Philippines

Huge billboards as we entered Mandaluyong

We were staying at Mandaluyong, a very busy district with two shopping malls –
Shangri-La Plaza and SM Megamall. Upon checking in, we took off to Megamall only to find that the shops were no different from those at our MidValley Megamall. We then went to Greenhills Shopping Centre, which was around 15 minutes taxi ride from SM Megamall as I was informed we can get beautiful pearls at good bargains from that place.

Greenhills Shopping Centre is a very huge one stop shopping/dining/entertainment centre. We only visited the stalls or ‘tiangge’ area, which is akin to Sungai Wang/Petaling Street. The stalls were split into sections – pearls, clothing (including factory overruns), furniture and home furnishings, bags, shoes among many others. I think we spent a lot of time at the pearls section, although Ismaliza was already eyeing the imitation bags and t-shirts for her children. We could not explore the other sections as we only had one hour to shop (Greenhills closes at 8pm).

Various stalls at Greenhills Tiangge section

Religious statues for sale at Greenhill Shopping Mall

Next, we headed over to Greenbelt 3 at Makati City. This was another 20 minutes ride as we were traveling from North to South. Actually Faizul wanted to go to Greenbelt, but we headed on to Greenhills first as we thought it’s the same place. It turned out to be two different places and I guess Faizul would be disappointed if we didn’t head to Greenbelt in the end. It was a good thing we did to, as Greenbelt turned out to be a very hip and happening dining/shopping area. According to some website, it's referred to as "The country's first Premier Lifestyle Center"

Image source : www.gfparchitects.com

The best bit about Greenbelt is there’s an open-air chapel surrounded by a moat located within the vicinity! It was very beautiful and serene and I took a few minutes to say my prayer of Thanksgiving for a safe arrival in Manila.

The Greenbelt Chapel

We had dinner in a nice restaurant at Greenbelt but I'll cover that in my next post (just on food)

The next few days were basically traveling to and from Eastwood City, where our office in Philippines is located. Eastwood City is a concentrated commercial and residential development located in Quezon City. Despite its modest size and ongoing construction, the place was just packed with workers. I love how they had so many eateries around Eastwood City, so spoilt for choice! Unfortunately, due to some circumstances, I am unable to be more adventurous in food as much as I like to (to be explained in next post). Eastwood City also has a sheltered arena of which live performance could be held. It seemed that My Chemical Romance performed there before. Coming up this month will be Daughtry.

Various views of Eastwood City

Eastwood City also has its very own Walk of Fame. One can take photos of the plaques of your favourite Filipino star, whom actually we know none of them.

As the shops closes relatively early in Manila, there's not much point going elsewhere during rush hour, except on Tuesday whereby Ismaliza and myself did the crazy thing by going back to Greenhills for more shopping. Luckily, we managed to get the things we wanted by 8pm!

As I needed to fly back to KL on Thursday evening, I brought my luggage to office, and headed straight to the airport during noon. The driver was very nice. He took a so-called short cut to the airport via Taguig City which is where most of the military base is located. Along the way, we passed by the Manila American Cemetery. As I only caught a glimpse of the beautiful cemetary, I really wanted to share how it actually looks like :

image source : www.inproudremembrance.com

The Philippine Army HQ.

We also passed by certain parts of Manila which is definitely not like Eastwood City, Mandaluyong or Makati City - A stark reminder of the problems of poverty faced by the country. It's like stepping back into reality just right before I headed back home.

Note : It's probably interesting to note that despite going to Manila, I have not step foot into the actual Manila district itself. According to my Filipino colleague, Manila is rather far from Eastwood City, or Mandaluyong. Not sure will I ever have the chance to visit Manila again...


lilium said...

OH! Didn't know u went to Manila. I assume u went last week. Were u there for an education presentation?

n i l e e y said...

yeah, went there for a workshop.