Philippines, Pilippines, or Filippines: Part 2 Manila

Christmas tree at People's Palace, a Thai restaurant in Greenbelt in Makati
Designer Christmas tree at People’s Palace, a Thai restaurant in Greenbelt in Makati
Continuation from

Sagada was a great experience. Matthew and I  jumped back on the bus and this time we knew what to expect in the torturous ride so it wasn’t as bad. I found a somewhat comfortable position and since it wasn’t too late I stayed awake by playing a few games and reading a book I previously downloaded on my i-pad; although I wish I had wi-fi access so I could play an online game or something on a site like to distract myself from the 10 hours of remaining boredom. We reached Manila by 2am, saw a few cabs lined up and tried to get in one of them to hear Joseph our tour operator then say “I reserved taxis for the people who requested me too”.  Apparently that wasn’t a group discussion and he didn’t think that the only two non-Filipino  people that were with him might need a taxi. But it all worked out, Matthew was able to grab us a taxi off the street within a few minutes. We got back to the apartment to finally get some real sleep. We were in Makati from December 30th – January 2nd. While we were there, Cynthia, Daniel and their baby Noa arrived so we went to a few of Cynthia and Daniel’s favorite restaurants.  We also decided to check out a few places that Cynthia’s friend Margaux recommended.

Legazpi Market

Legazpi Market market that is open in Makati on Sundays mornings and closes around 2pm.  It’s a small market; however, it does have quite a variety of international food options, local artist, clothing, and crafts. We decided to try a Filipino “healthy” pork dish at Diana’s Special Bibingka in Legazpi Market. It was pretty tasty.


Chinatown aka Binondo, is said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world. Everyone there was preparing for New Year’s Eve. Apparently there is a tradition of putting a pineapple with limes circled around it on your door for good luck. People were selling these, some type of root, and fireworks everywhere. I tried to ask about the pineapple charm but the most information I could out of anyone is that it was for good luck (FYI the majority of Filipinos speak fluent English, especially in Makati). We also ran into a pretty nice dragon =)



Intramuros is a colonial fort/city built in Manila when the Spaniards colonized the Philippines. It is a nice walk once you find the wall, which you can walk on top of.  I call it “The Great Wall of Manila”.



The spirit of Christmas was still in the air when we arrived back to Manila, so there were still tons of angels, trees, and Christmas lights all around. There are tons of Malls in Manila, quite a few of them are interconnected so you never have to step outside. We got a chance to visit quite a few of them including: Greenbelt 1 -5, Greenhills, SM Mall Makati, SM Mall of Asia (one of the largest malls in the world with one of the worlds largest 3D IMAX theater screens), Gloreita, The Fort (Bonifacio High Street), Market-Market, and Rockwell. My favorite was Greenbelt 1-5 for walking around, people watching and restaurants.  SM Mall was the most crowded mall I have ever been too, it was pretty much overwhelming on New Year’s Day.

Makati City’s New Year’s Eve Countdown

I’ve never been to a city street countdown, I am glad that I had the opportunity to join the Pinoy’s of Makati for theirs. Their firework display  was the most amazing one that I’ve ever seen. I’ve usually watched fireworks from a distance, these fireworks were just a few feet above us compared to other shows that I’ve seen.  Here’s a video that I found on YouTube of the show we saw from the same view-point  After that we headed to Rocket Room,  where Daniel’s friend Edge was DJing to celebrate.

A few restaurant recommendations:

Manila Maki - nilasing na hipon with mango and kani salad in garlic sushi rice topped with fresh tuna and a special mango dressing. This is another brilliant creation and equally good as the other Fil-Japanese creations.Photo and caption via-
Manila Maki – nilasing na hipon with mango and kani salad in garlic sushi rice topped with fresh tuna and a special mango dressing.
Photo and caption via-

Manila is filled with an array of international food options. While there make sure you try some of the Filipino dishes such as adobo (which comes in a variety of styles based on regional flavors), sigsig (fried pig face), halo halo (dessert), and beef tips.

  • Bizu Patisserie- A lovely European cafe with a delectable brunch in Greenbelt
  • Kitchen- A Filipino fine dining experience in Greenbelt
  • Manila Maki- Filipino Japanese fusion restaurant with Sushi and meat eater options in Makati’s Salcedo Village district.
  • People’s Palace – A great Thai restaurant in Greenbelt

Cheers and Happy New Year!

To be continued – Part 3 Boracay ….

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

As with the majority of holidays in Peru people travel for New Years Eve. Matthew and I were lucky enough to be invited by our friends Ursula and Miguel and their college friends to rent a beach house in Mancora. Mancora is in northern Peru and is known for having the best waves, great surfers, and buenisimo ceviche! Matthew was really happy that we went with a bunch of meat lovers who pre-packed that brought tons of steak and sausage along (if you don’t know he’s allergic to seafood and fish)  – we barbecued almost every night. Don’t have lighter fluid here’s another option.

Miguel taught Matthew the amazing technique of using a blow dryer to help increase the fire.
Matthew and Paula

We had a relaxing week on the beach with a group of Ursula and Miguel’s college friends and two of their adorable daughters. Matthew and baby Paulita had a connection – I have to watch out for this girl lol. We got to work on our Spanish since the whole crew was Peruvian.  Let me tell you I wish I would have paid more attention in Spanish class – “girl talk” in a foreign language is quite difficult lol. But they were great about it and threw in some English every once in a while. Everyone brought champagne so the champagne flowed every night. Riccadonna Asti was the brand of choice its pretty sweet – I like it! It doesn’t help with speaking Spanish though. We also celebrated Gonszalo’s birthday. His wife Rafaella brought all this party stuff down to celebrate it – how great! Besides that there were plenty of days relaxing on the beach and in the pool.

The guys!

New Years Eve was fun, the married folks stayed at the beach house, ate dinner and watched the fireworks, and the single girls and guy went out to party.  Dinner was great Lorena made a delicious homemade pizza, we had barbecued steak & chorizo, and I baked potatoes on the grill. New Year struck and there were fireworks launched from every beach house and hotel in town.

The girls
Man On Fire!

And of course we ran across the Peruvian tradition of burning a dummy that represents someone evil from your past was live and in living color.  What you do is you buy one of these lovely guys and post a note on him of why you want to burn him. Then you attach a few flammables to it like fireworks, and let it go!  Now that’s cathartic! Talk about closure.

The dummies
Yum Yum Yum

We went in to town a few times, I tried conchas negras ceviche YUMM, I could have eaten them every day! Thank you Celso for introducing me to them! The black shell fished can be found on the street that goes towards the beach from the main road (there’s only one street to the beach). You’ll spot it because it a place with a table with a bunch of black shell-fish on the table guys are opening them and serving it up in bowls by the masses.

The best part of the trip – me taking surfing classes and catching a few waves!

Me on the wave.
Catching waves! Love it!

More pics here: