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.
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.
From Santolan station, we took a taxi to get to Marikina.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Annoyed, I walked back and found myself walking through a barangay(?).
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.
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.