Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Philippines: Manila Musings from the Taxi

I tend to jump my posts in this blog from one holiday, country and city to another. Sorry about that. It really has something to do with efficiency and lean management of this blog, and well I have to admit, hormonal factors as well playing on my part. How fast I can recollect the particular trip activity, how quick I can translate it to writing, the number of pictures I need to work on (quick edit and upload), and well lastly, my mood. On top of that, I best prefer some variety; it makes blogging fun and entertaining =)

So while I am not done with my Vietnam posts and close to 200 backlog holiday posts, allow me please to jump over to Manila, Philippines.

Skyway
Skyway Makati View

Manila has been our gateway for the Vietnam trip. We passed here enroute to Ho Chi Minh City and we even layovered a couple of hours at the Wings Transit Lounge for some much needed sleep and rest. On our way back we stayed in Makati to spend our New Years. I will of course blog everything, but for now I would like to talk about the little taxi ride we took from the airport to Makati and how this seemingly trivial event opened up a new world for me.

Manila has taught me much in the past. I am ever so grateful. She adopted me, molded me, disciplined me and watched me grow and become into who I am today.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the Read more link below]

Just for reference: Manila is a large conurbation; it is a network of small and big cities. Makati City, part of Manila (often called as well as GMA - Greater Manila Area) is the central business district of the country.

From NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport, also called Manila International Airport), we took the usual taxi to our hotel in Makati, the Makati Diamond Residences, which was by the way gorgeous, and I will later post pictures about our stay there.

Now I have heard a lot of negative stories about the taxis at NAIA. True enough, when I got out of the airport, the private taxi touts literally were all over my hair. Their offer? Php 1,200 (€22.50) for 4 people to Makati, which of course was ridiculous because the usual taxi, yellow taxi or not, will be between Php350-400. I however do suggest giving good tip to the taxi driver and making it generous as well if it’s traffic.

Manila is known to be the deadliest city in the world when it comes to being stuck in traffic. Read here from BBC: Manila voted worst city to drive on Earth. This is the reason why most taxi drivers ignore the meter and will instead negotiate with the passenger. Quite understandable though, as they need to make a living as well.

We were however very lucky because we arrived on New Years’ Eve, which means it’s a non-working day in the country and there is no traffic at all on the road. Literally no traffic. The driver asked if it’s okay to take the skyway because it's faster (an additional charge for a small toll fee). I told him its fine.

(set cue music of Fly by Ludovico Einaudi for background touch, haha)

As we drove on the skyway, buildings start to emerge in the horizon. Tall buildings. Many were new and some looked a bit outdated. But I do not seem to know these buildings. I have never seen before.

You know, I was very excited to see Manila again. It has been 7 years since my last visit here together with the Dutchman, and 15 long years ago since I left for the Netherlands. Although I was born and raised in Cebu, Manila was my home for a decade, but suddenly in this taxi ride, the landscape of this megacity that I called home has become unrecognisable.

I looked outside the window hoping to see fragments of the Manila I knew before, but I am left dazed and unsure, and a bit unsettled as well somehow, seeing all the unfamiliar buildings and infrastructure passing by, I do not have a referencing point. I felt like I am treading into the unknown. Is this Manila? I was not even sure which place in Pasay we were passing through under the skyway, although I vaguely remember a part of this tollway before.

*sigh* I am seeing a different Manila; a Manila that I know nothing about.

I remember a recent discussion I had with the Dutchman, as I was having a nostalgia moment about my childhood, he said, “It is not how it used to be. It is not there anymore when you go back.” And by this he meant about my life before in the Philippines. They have become far away memories.

As I continued to look outside the window, and taking a few pictures as well for posterity, which I always do in my travels, I suddenly experienced a notch in my stomach, like a hollow feeling. A feeling of distance and removed. I rummaged through the feelings in my head, trying to make sense of all the cascading waterfall of emotions that is sending cold showers of realisations. I am the logical type of person and I always have this need to translate and justify my emotions into facts.

The truth is... Manila has become a stranger to me. I don’t know her, anymore.

Have you ever felt that way to a city you have always called home?

For the rest of the taxi journey, I sat back in my seat and pondered on this new reality. I am but a visitor here. I do not belong here anymore. This is now truly a fact. It felt so odd. And I felt sad about it. On the other hand, I am sure we can all draw similar comparisons to this in our other life situations as well.

So I am bit heartbroken. The bitter realisation that a city (once) close to me, has now become quite far away from me.

A few pictures below from the taxi:

Skyway
taxi ride
taxi manila

Travel Period: December 2016
Destination: Manila, Philippines

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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