Technically yesterday was day one in Philippines, but today was when I would officially begin my sightseeing. After a good hearty sleep, I woke up in time for breakfast at Kabayan (they start serving really early).
The breakfast and lunch isn’t your usual buffet offering. You queue up and get served your choice of dishes. No seconds.
It was enough to kick-start my day.
As per my trip itinerary, I was going to be leaving Manila tonight for Banaue, but thanks to Aimee who already bought the bus ticket for me, it freed me up today to go see the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial — which wasn’t far from where I was staying.
I had to check out by noon — and I duly did so by noon. I kept my luggage at the reception and told them I would collect it in the evening. Since it was already 12pm, I had lunch from Kabayan before leaving.
Done with lunch, I made my way to a very busy Pasay MRT station. Bought myself a one way ticket to Ayala station (as that’s where Aimee told me I needed to go first).
I also saw a Convergys office here, not that I was surprised to know big Indian BPOs have offices here in the Philippines.
But the taxi driver in his broken English started hinting as though he had no idea about the cemetery, its existence or how to get there — which I knew was just an act. The cemetery is quite famous and located in the posh Fort Bonifacio area in Taguig. Plus, its freaking huge!
Fortunately, there was a traffic policeman up ahead and I forced him to stop so that I could ask the officer as to how to get to the cemetery. The officer gave the taxi driver instructions and I could see a smile on the driver’s face as if he was thinking “yeah, yeah, I know where it is. Fine, I’ll take him there!”
A few minutes later, I arrived at the cemetery. The fare: ₱135 ($3/€2.2). Way too much!
There isn’t an entry fee for the memorial. The security guard only asked me to sign my name in and advised me not to step on the grass or walk through the first two lanes (don’t know why).
I wrote a note in the visitor’s book they have inside the chapel and left.
I went inside the visitor’s lounge and stayed for a few minutes. Not that they had anything to see inside, but the room had air-conditioning and a water cooler. The retired American army colonel who manages the place smiled at me as he walked into his office and said: “Enjoy it”.
Enjoy it I did 🙂
Feeling a bit cooler, I left the memorial. The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial is one among the few attractions in Manila worth seeing. You may not want to spend 3 hours here, that too in this heat, but I found it peaceful and a calm place for a bit of photography. Of course, do keep in mind this is still a cemetery honouring soldiers and not your usual family picnic park. So do show some respect for the dead once inside.
The taxi ride was through McKinley Road, and I quickly realized how posh this area was. The taxi driver told me very rich people live on McKinley Hill.
I took the MRT back to Pasay, went back to Kabayan, freshened up, collected my bags and called Aimee. She asked me to come to Central station, where she would meet me there.
Once at Central, we took a taxi and went to Sampaloc, cost ₱70.
From there, it was a short walk to the Autobus office. I collected my ticket, paid Aimee back (₱450 for a one-way ticket to Banaue) and we sat a convenient store to chat for some time.
I saw Aimee off and boarded my bus, a small one. I’ll talk about how the ride was in my next post but all in all, today was a good start. I had high hopes for the next few days.