Friday, 11 July 2014

Exploring Manila.

Waking at 6am I thought I'd rise to get some breakfast as it finished at 9. I ended up chatting to two British guys who still hadn't been to bed yet from their night out watching the football game and shared my attitudes towards Manila. Even toward the opposite sex. They said they were constantly harassed in bars and pubs by locals trying to sleep with them, by that I mean ladies of the night obviously. One even told the British guy she would eat him up, we did have to laugh at that comment! The people of malate are very strange indeed.

I ended up going back to sleep till 11am and them checked out, ready but hesitant to explore the city around me. I was told to take a jeepney to the national museum of the Filipino people but I had no idea what a jeepney was! Turns out it's the main mode of transport here in the Philippines. It's said to be the symbol of their country as it's splashed in colour and religious icons but really it's just a heap of scrap. Much like the Philippines. Everyone is filled with energy and laughter, but their lives are confined to shoebox houses that fall down around them. They don't let this get them down though! 

This is a jeepney! Only 20 pesos (30p) to ride for 20 minutes! Although the routes are very confusing so I could only get it one way.

Anyway, when I was dropped off at the museum I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderfully the place was set out and looked. Far better than the other national museums I have been too. Especially the one in Sabah. This used to be where congress met until in 1972 when president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and the hall fell silent. It was also heavily damaged during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War Two when they occupied it in 1945 after the Battle of Manila. 

Entrance with a student card cost 50pesos (40p), and the ladies at reception kept looking at my student card and telling me I should be a model and that I'm too pretty to travel alone haha, bless them. They were so sweet and so interested in my life and my education. 

There was a lot of art work by this man named Tolentino who lived from 1890 to 1976 and was eventually given the title that essentially made him the artist of the country. His work is amazing, and he asides from painting, he also did a lot of bust models. Not only of famous people, but of common folk too such as Boy Scouts. 

My favourite area of the museum was highly unexpected. At university I do a module on the history of medicine and there turned out to be a huge painting on four canvases by Carlos Botang Francisco which showed the evolution of medicine in the Philippines. The first painting showed pre-colonial Philippines where healing practioniers known as babaylons preformed invocation with their hands. They called the locals to gather round as it's a rite their participating in and local liqueur was offered to the spirits in a pot. The image is very much one of desperation and hope. 

The second painting showed what it was like under Spanish colonial rule where the monks were seen as healers and plant specimens were used. It also marked the era of observation and record-keeping with images like hour glasses, scales and measuring instruments in the foreground. 

The third showed the progress made under American occupation of the Philippines.   


I was really annoyed though because the assistant at the museum wouldn't stop talking to me asking me about my life, how old I was and telling me I was beautiful about 7 times in 5 minutes, this meant I couldn't read the other side of the wall explaining more about the image because he wouldn't let me concrete long enough to take in the words and made me in a rush to move on!

From that point forward I found the same happened around the rest of the museum. All of the guards wouldn't leave me alone and insisted on talking to me even though I was making it quite clear I didn't want to talk. I couldn't just ignore them though, it felt far too rude, but it was very irritating. 

Whilst the weather was still beautiful I decided I'd go to the old town called intramuros. I wanted to walk there but I wasn't sure how, and so I had to hope into a tricycle even though I didn't want to as I knew it would be expensive. He quoted me 150 for 30 minutes, but in the end, even though I omy, did 30 minutes and managed to avoid all the excursions he kept offering me, he insisted he said 250, not 150, but I was too hot and bothered to argue over a pound so just gave it to him so he'd leave me alone.

Me in my tricycle! Anyway, at first we went to the Manila Cathedral and if I'm honest, it was a total disappointment. The problem I found with the whole old town was that none of it was actually old! Most of it was all destroyed in the war so all of it has been rebuilt instead, meaning it has lost the architecture that once defined it. 

I'm very windswept, but there's the cathedral. Below is the San Agustin church, again, not a lot to see!

Afterward my last destination was Fort Santiago mainly used during WWII as described on the plaque below. Again, most of it had been rebuilt and there was nothing to see. I did visit the Rizal shrine and the site of execution though to learn about their hero, Jose Rizal. He was a scholar and a poet whose peacefully asked for independence. His execution in 1896 encouraged the revolutionary movement, hence him being held as a hero now. 

View of Manila.

Horse drawn carts that show toursits around the old city. 

After I had finished at the fort, it looked as if it was going to rain and I figured I couldn't leave Asia without going to Asia's biggest shopping mall! So, I got a cab for 150 pesos to The Mall of Asia. It was absolutely huge, I didn't know where to start or where to stop! I found many things amusing whilst I was in there. The supermarkets have so many different types of whitening cream instead of tanning lotion which makes me laugh. I'm so desperate to be tanned whilst these people are so desperate to be white! That's because over here if you're white, it usually means your rich as you don't have to do labour in the sun. There was every western shop you could imagine here too. Topshop, Dairy Queen, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, etc. I went into forever 21 and just got 2 new bras and a dress. I loved this toy store I went into. I was looking at fashion design books pretending they were for my niece, but really they were for my 24 year old sister haha. I wish I could have got her some but I knew they'd be ruined by the time I got them home!

There was an ice rink in the shopping centre, a playground, a 12 screen cinema, a waterfront etc etc, it was just overwhelming. So, before I spent anymore money I decided I should call it a day and see if I could find a taxi to the bus station.

Originally my plan was to go up north to Banue to see the rice fields, but  a man a spoke to in KK said it wasn't worth the trip if that was all I was going there for. Besides, given my limited time frame, I decided it would be best to give it a miss. After all, it looked quite similar to the Cameron highlands anyway. So instead, I booked the first bus I saw that was going South. Whilst walking from my hostel back to the bus station with my backpack, I was shocked at the amount of clubs openly offering prostitution at 7pm in the evening! It was very sad as many of the girls looked very young. As I walked along all the men kept shouting after me, telling me I was a sexy girl. Manila is one hell of a creepy place for a solo female backpacker. I would definitely advise travelling with someone there.

My bus was supposed to depart at 7:30pm but it didn't arrived till 9pm. Once on board, I took a few valiums and dozed off. I wasn't sleeping very well though because I lost my earplugs and my iPod was out of battery so all I could hear was the horn honking. It was very distracting but I was glad to be out of Manila and on my way to a new destination, wherever that may be! 

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