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Old 08-02-2017, 10:53 AM
7,697 posts, read 8,168,803 times
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Originally Posted by Existential Monkey View Post
As a Filipino who has never been to Bangkok, my opinions:

Manila is a slum. Like most Filipinos from the "provinces", we are still embarrassed by the fact that Manila is usually the first city that visitors see when they come to the Philippines. It's poorly planned, dirty, polluted, and rife with corruption. A testament to how badly our leaders (almost all of them based on the capital) have handled this country.

While this may be similar to Bangkok, there is one major difference. The Philippines is simply not that exotic.

300 years of Spanish rule, and 50 years of American rule will do that. Unlike the Dutch or the British who left the cultures of their colonies intact, the Spanish assimilated their colonies as much as possible (hence Latin America). The Philippines is no exception. And it was followed by the US which also tried to assimilate the Philippines resulting in a double dose of European influence.

Not even the Chinese immigrants were spared. While in other parts of Asia, Chinese immigrants are usually well-separated from the natives (the most glaring example being Singapore), in the Philippines, Chinese immigrants are all virtually assimilated fully. They are Christians and identify as Filipinos first. They constitute around 20% of the Filipino population, but in almost all cases, the only way you can tell if someone has Chinese ancestry is by their surname (often hispanicized). In everything else, they are Filipino.

You won't see pagodas or old temples here either. The Philippines was the last of the Southeast Asian Austronesian regions to be Indianized, and it never got Islamized fully before the Spanish arrived. They retained more of their original Austronesian culture than neighboring Malaysia or Indonesia (hence why culturally, the native un-Hispanicized people are a cross between Malays and Oceanians). Whatever structures that were built by pre-Hispanic Filipinos are long gone, as they were made of wood. And the knowledge of building them as well is also gone, as the Spanish made sure of that. Only traces of it remain, like in native Austronesian roof shapes (Indonesia and Malaysia has similar pre-Islamic and pre-Hindu architecture).

In contrast, Bangkok has absolutely beautiful art traditions that survived the colonial era. The temples and the palaces have characteristically lovely Indochinese artstyles (itself heavily influenced by India and China).

The Philippines doesn't have those. While it does also have Spanish-inspired architecture, you won't find much of it in Manila anymore. Manila was hit HARD in World War II. Absolutely FLATTENED. Very little Spanish-era architecture survived the Japanese invasion and the American retaliation, which is a shame really.

Manila was once described as the "Paris of the East" in the 1800s. That title is now used for Hanoi because of its canals. But Manila held that title for a more direct reason - because it really did look and feel like a European city smack-dab in the middle of Asia. Here are some old pictures of it so you can see what I mean.

To even better appreciate it, the following are pictures of modern-day Vigan, Ilocos Sur. It's famous for its Spanish Filipino architecture. Imagine this on a city-wide scale and you'll get an idea of what Manila used to be like before it got devastated by war.

I still mourn that Manila. Not the dirty smelly Manila we have now that rose up from the ashes of the Japanese and American bombers and corrupted by the shortsightedness and greed of Filipino oligarchs.
Thanks for posting those pics. I always wondered why, for such an old city, Manila had basically no good old architecture. All blown up. What a loss.
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:03 AM
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
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Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
MOSTLY because Manila is a very stressful city to visit. I agree that Manila has its beauty, but it isn't as easy to just walk around and explore as Bangkok.

The taxi drivers and corruption starts at the Manila airport. Taxis, that look VERY LEGIT, who try to rip tourists off upon arrival, many of them given free reign from the airport itself. The constant taxi drivers who insist on no meters or obscene fees, etc. That kind of stuff. It gets stressful very quickly. The other problem of walking around on foot, and you get other types approaching foreigners with con games, etc. Mothers who strip their kids naked, and make their kids target foreigners walking by, as they themselves gamble away the kid's money collecting.

Bangkok has it too, but it feels very minor compared to Manila. You also have taxi drivers in Manila who have setup kidnapping and robberies of foreigners they pick up at the airport as well.

In short, if Manila can ever get a hold of its city population's mindsets - particularly the street vermin types and taxi drivers, then yeah, the city would have a lot to offer.

I'm a big fan of the Philippines, but the stresses of visiting and spending time in Manila gets to tourists/foreigners. It is unfortunate, as that city is what tourists usually see FIRST and LAST in the Philippines, which is probably a double-edge sword, as the millions of tourists that visit Thailand every year, seem to just be a fraction of who visit the Philippines. Too many foreigners prefer a little safety and peace when on vacation, and Manila doesn't offer either one of those two things.

But, yeah, if Manila was 'cleaned up of the people significantly' the barebones structure of Manila is fantastic!
My Filipino friends plan their days and nights around avoiding major areas of Manila once it gets dark. Filipinos working abroad get exploited like crazy at the airport.

When in Manila, one learns very quickly to have a plan with plenty of contingencies.

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Old 09-23-2017, 06:31 PM
Location: Austin, Tejas, maaaan
20 posts, read 9,659 times
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I have to visit Manila more than I'd like because I have a family member who lives there. I hate going there because of the stress of having to have your guard up all the time even when compared to other big developing world cities. The smog is frequently very bad from all the unregulated vehicle emissions, primarily jeepneys, I'm guessing. Transportation is miserable: the subway and train system is way overloaded, and the taxis have too many crooks driving them. Even Ninoy Aquino airport is a hellhole, which is a portent of what's in store for newcomers. Poverty ensures that a bunch of desperate people will do anything to make a buck, and foreigners are targets of scams and begging. It's just a drag. Bangkok is not as bad, and the food's a hell of a lot better in general, not to mention the superiority of Bangkok's spectacular attractions. It's sad, because like you often hear, most Filipinos are friendly and helpful, but Manila is rough . . .
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Old 09-24-2017, 01:04 AM
621 posts, read 382,847 times
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^^Try it first before you do these sweeping and unprecedented generalization. Seems like there are gazilions of uninformed and inexperienced travellers out there that needs to explore more of the metro. There are indeed places that are rundown (no one denies that) yet there are still more areas that ranges from okay to excellent. My suggestion is try to explore first if you have not. You might be surprised that there are some places that are even miles better than your first world cities. Its a complex and very big metro, so if you are not familiar with it then you're missing that part of the Philippine soul. I'm from the province and my perception with Manila was not good as well when I was young but when I lived there for years it has changed.

PS: Although I like Manila, I still would prefer to live in the province if I have to choose.
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