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Imelda Marcos shoe collection Marikina

Philippines: Little Tokyo, Marikina Shoe Museum, and finally — karaoke!

Date: May 16th 2014

All my major travel objectives on this 2014 excursion across Philippines was over. Now it was time to wind down a bit and just enjoy my last few days in Manila.

For lunch today, Gale took to me to Little Tokyo, located on Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City. When she told me about Little Tokyo, I thought it was going to be like an entire area dominated by Japanese establishments, like Chinatowns elsewhere in the world.

Little Tokyo restaurants Manila
Little Tokyo turned out to be a privately run complex housing many Japanese eateries
Chino Roces Avenue Japanese Manila
Chino Roces Avenue has a few Japanese supermarkets too
Little Tokyo Manila Makati
We went in and checked out the restaurants inside
Eateries Little Tokyo restaurant Manila
Quite a few choices — some exclusive ramen shops, some sushi bars — but mostly restaurants serving all
Shinjuku restaurant Little Tokyo Manila Philippines
We came back out and sat at the more popular Shinjuku restaurant
Tenshindon Japanese restaurant Manila
I had Tenshindon, rice topped with fried egg and crab meat gravy
Kani salad Shinjuku Little Tokyo Manila
Gale had a bowl of ramen and Kani salad (pictured above) — which was very nice!

You can check out the Shinjuku menu on its Zomato page.

Date: May 17th 2014

In my quest to see more attractions within Manila or close to it, I decided to visit the Marikina Shoe Museum today. It houses a large collection of shoes owned by the infamous Imelda Marcos, widow of the former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Aside from the many allegations of amassing immense illicit wealth, Imelda Marcos was infamous for possessing a collection of over a thousand pairs of shoes — most of it from expensive fashion brands. Some of those pairs are now housed inside the Marikina Shoe Museum.

Fortunately being the weekend, my friend Gale accompanied me today.

View from train to Marikina
We took the train to Santolan

From Santolan station, we took a taxi to get to Marikina.

Marikina big shoe Rizal street
Marikina is dubbed the “Shoe Capital of the Philippines” because of the many shoe production houses in the district
Marikina shoe museum building Manila
The Marikina Shoe Museum is right by Rizal Street and is a small building right in the heart of Marikina
Marikina shoe museum bend
There is an entry fee of ₱50 (₹71/$1/€0.90)
Shoes famous Filipino personalities Marikina
Filipino Shoes of Fame(?)
Marikina shoe museum displays Manila
Photography is restricted and I couldn’t take close ups of the shoes, especially those belonging to Imelda Marcos
Gale Imelda Marcos Marikina
This is my friend posing in front of a portrait of Imelda Marcos (when she was younger)
Marikina shoe museum attractions
Besides housing Imelda Marcos’ shoes, the museum also houses shoes from famous Filipino personalities
Venus Raj shoes Marikina shoe museum
Venus Raj is a Filipino beauty pageant queen
Mayor Guzman shoe collection Marikina
This is a collection of shoes donated to the museum from a former mayor of Marikina
Inside Marikina shoe museum art
There are some art decor around
Wooden cobbler moulds Marikina museum
Wooden shoe moulds line the pillar
Marikina shoe museum floors shoes
The collection of Imelda Marcos’ shoes is on display both downstairs and upstairs. We went upstairs next.
Marikina shoe museum Imelda Indira Gandhi
They had photos of Imelda Marcos with all the famous leaders and personalities she met the world over. That’s Imelda Marcos meeting Indira Gandhi.
Imelda Marcos shoe collection Marikina
I couldn’t take close up shots of the shoes because it’s not allowed, but you will see all sorts of high end brands of shoes here : Pierre Cardin, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and such

And that was it. We were in and out in just 30 minutes. The Marikina Shoe Museum does not house every single pair of shoe owned by Imelda Marcos, only a handful. But still, I didn’t mind. Manila doesn’t offer too many attractions and coming to Marikina by public transportation isn’t that expensive, so I would say Marikina Shoe Museum is worth a quick look.

Gale big shoe booth Marikina
Shoes of all shapes and sizes, all around Marikina
Philippines footwear center Marikina
We went in here next
Marikina shoe making Manila
This was like a promotion facility for the shoe makers of the region. They had a showroom in the front, and at the back was a workshop with all the tools and material used in making shoes.
Marikina shoe factory materials
I asked them where the leather comes from and a worker there told me it’s mostly from Taiwan and some sourced from across Philippines.
Cafe Kapitan restaurant Marikina
Cafe Kapitan restaurant
Lady of Abandoned Church Marikina
Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Church
Lady of Abandoned Church Marikina Manila
We didn’t go inside as there was a mourning going on
Classic house Marikina Manila Philippines
Marikina seemed very clean and well maintained

It was a nice visit to Marikina. Feels like a nice neighbourhood to live in, to get away from the chaos of Manila.

Tonight was actually my last night in Manila, and if there was one thing I wanted to do in Philippines but hadn’t yet tried, it was karaoke! Like at a proper karaoke bar. Karaoke is  probably the national past time in Philippines, especially given every Filipino sings in some shape or form 🙂

So Gale took me to Trinoma Mall in the evening.

Fish & Co value meal Manila
First we had dinner at Fish & Co. This was a pretty good value meal: fries, crisps, 3 fish fillets and 3 beef sliders… for about ₱350? I forgot.
Redbox karaoke Trinoma mall Manila
Then Gale suggested Red Box for karaoke. Being a Saturday night, we had to wait a bit for our room.

Red Box is a popular chain of karaoke lounge bars in Manila. It’s clean, reasonably priced — I believe it was ₱100 an hour for a room, and they had a great library of songs across genres.

Redbox karaoke machine Let it go
*Clearly* the most popular song of the year but not something I was ever going to sing
Westlife karaoke songs Redbox
Instead, I loved Westlife’s singles from their first three albums. Such good sing-along songs. So I sang them… all of them! 🙂
Gale Mithun singing karaoke Redbox
I wasn’t as good a singer as Gale was, but it was fun. I mean that’s the whole point of karaoke anyway.

We ended up singing for 2 hours. She chose her classic favourites, I chose “Easy Lover” by Phil Collins and so on. We could have hung around longer, but it was getting late.

Mithun Divakaran singing karaoke
I’m glad Gale took me to Red Box. I didn’t know about the place and was instead thinking of hitting the many dingy karaoke bars that line Manila’s city streets.

May 19th  2014

I left Manila feeling sad that my trip was over. My 2014 trip to Philippines was better than my 2013 trip, but still not as great as my 2011 trip was. But I doubt I’ll ever enjoy quite the experience of that first trip. This time around I finally got to visit Oslob and have a proper whaleshark experience to make up for the disappointment at Donsol. I finally did the Mt. Pinatubo trek which was awesome and thanks to Gale, got to know about other festivals and places to check out.

But after three trips, I still couldn’t go to Batanes, which is still far beyond my reach (literally). There are places like Vigan I feel I should check out, but I like to think for an Indian tourist, I have covered Philippines pretty damn well. Would be nice to be recognized by the tourism board of Philippines and invited back (for free), but that remains a dream too.

Taking off Manila sky sunset
It was late in the evening when my flight took off from Manila

I landed in Hong Kong on time but my connecting Dragon Air flight to Bangalore was delayed because the plane coming from China was late.

British Airways A380 HK airport
Spotted an A380 for the first time. You wouldn’t get an idea of just how big this airplane is until you see it parked next to an A320 or something smaller.
Bangalore airport immigration queue
I landed back in India later than scheduled but the worse part was this queue at immigration. Fancy new extension and they still couldn’t get enough officers to man the counters.

It took me an hour to get out of the airport. My younger brother picked me up and I spent the night at his place because it was too late to head back to my apartment.

As I slept that night… I was already missing Philippines. The whalesharks, the natural but now familiar beauty, Gale, karaoke, the friendly people, jeepney rides, errr… the food not too much. (Sorry :P)

Until next time Philippines. Whenever that may be.

Previous post(s) in this series:

Philippines 2014: Pahiyas Festival in Lucban; Kamay Ni Hesus

Philippines 2014: Manila Chinese Cemetery

Philippines 2014: Corregidor Island tour

Philippines 2014: Bargain shopping in Manila; Paseo de Santa Rosa & Solenad

Philippines 2014: Japanese tunnel; leaving Davao for Manila

Philippines 2014: Scuba diving for the first time, at Samal Island (Davao)

Philippines 2014: Philippine Eagle Center, Davao

Philippines 2014: Attractions at Eden Nature Park… and getting lost

Philippines 2014: Sky Cycle at Eden Nature Park, Davao

Pahiyas festival girl Lucban Philippines

Philippines: Pahiyas Festival in Lucban; Kamay Ni Hesus

Date: May 15th 2014

I had to wake up really early to board a bus going to Lucena. I boarded one from near Araneta Center and made up for lost sleep for much of the journey. At around 8am, I woke up when the bus was moving very slowly along the highway.

We reached Lucena Grand terminal and from there, boarded a jeepney going to Lucban, where the Pahiyas Festival was on in all its colourful glory.

Lucban jeepney Lucena station
It was going to be another 30 minute ride from Lucena to get to Lucban

The jeepney stopped a bit far out from the Lucban village/town. We were asked to get down and to get to Lucban proper, where the Pahiyas festivities were taking place, we had to take tricycle taxis! So a third ride later, again, we were dropped outside the village/town. Now we had to walk.

Shakeys on wheels Lucban Philippines
Shakey’s had this enormous bus serving food
Sleeping child being carried Philippines
It was very hot and we had to walk a bit
Lucban Pahiyas festival entrance
The roads had been blocked and vehicles could not enter
Decorated house Pahiyas festival
Right away I could see the decorated houses

Continue reading “Philippines: Pahiyas Festival in Lucban; Kamay Ni Hesus” »

Manila Chinese Cemetery houses

Philippines: Manila Chinese Cemetery – what it’s like inside

Date: May 14th 2014

After my Corregidor island tour, I took a break the following day to do some shopping in Manila. Today, I chose to spend my afternoon checking out Manila’s Chinese Cemetery. My ‘first’ Pinay friend Aimee told me about the cemetery and she suggested I check it out. That was back in 2011. Well, three years later, here I am.

Getting to the Chinese Cemetery wasn’t as easy. I mean, if you get to Abad Santos station, you will see the cemetery right away… but it’s finding the right entrance that’s the challenge. I got down at Abad Santos but when I couldn’t find an entrance nearby, I asked the staff at the LRT and they told I had to go to R. Papa, the very next station! Annoyed, I took the train to R.Papa.

Manila Chinese cemetery North Gate
I walked out of R. Papa station, by the road… and all I saw were the closed gates at the north entrance. Ugh.
Boundary wall Chinese cemetery Manila
I wondered how the heck I could get in. There was no one I could ask either.

Annoyed, I walked back and found myself walking through a barangay(?).

Manila barangay fiesta decorations Philippines
I just kept walking around assuming there would be an entrance to the cemetery somewhere behind
Stage barangay event Manila
But I couldn’t go much further because the road was blocked with this stage set up
Kids barangay Manila Philippines
So I walked back

I walked back to R. Papa where a bunch of tricycle taxi drivers accosted me asking where I want to go. I didn’t feel like wasting time anymore so I just hopped into one, bargained it down to 30 pesos and asked the guy to take me to the right entrance of the Manila Chinese Cemetery.

Manila Chinese Cemetery south gate entrance
The tricycle rode all the way back to Abad Santos station and then passed it to take a left. Another left turn and voila: I was at the right entrance!

The security guard at the entrance asked me where I was from and I replied saying I’m not from media, just a tourist. There is no entrance fee or anything, so one can just walk in. But as soon as I went in, a older guy approached me and asked me if I wanted a guide. He said he would show me around the cemetery in a bike and tell me all about the people buried here. How much? ₱800 (₹1100/$17/€14) he said. I said no. I even asked him if he was an official guide here.

I walked further inside… and another “guide” approached me. He offered to take me around for just ₱400. At this point I was doubting these “guides”. So I just said no to the second guy as well. Then this second fellow went and urinated beside a grave house.

Man peeing Manila Chinese Cemetery
I’m not kidding. That’s the guy, in red, peeing outside someone’s grave.
Manila Chinese Cemetery houses
Oh, by the way, these are not houses… but graves

Continue reading “Philippines: Manila Chinese Cemetery – what it’s like inside” »

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