“Metro Manila is extremely crowded. The city itself has a lot of ghetto areas, and houses with tin roofs, so it isn’t very beautiful. Over the past century or so the city’s architects haven’t really exerted themselves creatively, so there aren’t any historical or architecturally exciting neighborhoods, but they’ve been energetic in other ways, erecting huge skyscrapers, shopping malls and highways. Infrastructure on the public transport level, however, has stalled. There is an elevated railway with about five lines, but it’s often very crowded. Sometimes I had to let two pass before I was able to find space in the third. You can also get around by jeepney, trike, pedicab, FX and plenty more, but it’s probably best to get your own car, because it can really come in handy – especially if you’re out in your flip-flops and a tropical storm breaks. (2016)”
“Manila really isn’t beautiful, and isn’t even particularly interesting, but it’s still far better than Jakarta. The historic center could easily be seen in a day – and in fact even that would be too much. The war truly destroyed everything, and even the cathedral of Manila, for example, is in its ninth incarnation. The city has been obliterated eight times – by fire, tsunami, earthquake and artillery fire. In their place, I’d have started wondering whether someone up there really doesn’t want a church here. By the cathedral is a Spanish fortress which is barely worth mentioning, and a similarly unremarkable abbey. These are the principal sights.” (2015)
“A city of a thousand faces, with everything from palaces of glass and steel to the most impoverished slums, and of course the unmissable Chinatown as well. The poor are not isolated in remote ghettos, so the rich SUV driver can wave to the deeply impoverished family across the street as he drives out of his gated living complex.
Crossing the street at a ‘pedestrian’ crossing is a serious challenge in Manila, as the highway code is at best a joke here. Interestingly, though, we saw no sign of collisions, or even the merest fender-bender.
China dominates the economy of the Philippines, from the smallest boutiques to the construction of the largest skyscrapers. It’s only in politics, they say, that they don’t interfere. (B. A., 2018)